The sound of the laughter of little children has once again become part of the fabric of the community of St Teresa.
Ten years ago area residents were devastated with the closure of their consolidated school. But happenstance changed that around when Rainbow Beginnings Early Learning Centre rented the local hall formerly used for a gym by St Teresa school students.
“We are so excited to have them in our community,” Kathleen Trainor, treasurer of the social club, the organization that runs the building, said. “It’s really been a godsend because ordinarily the building wasn’t being used much.”
Jamie Lynn Mosher and Flo Younker MacDonald, owners of Rainbow Beginnings, said the warm welcome they received when they first brought the idea to the community was instant.
“We were at a crossroads as to what we were going to do with the hall when this sort of fell into our lap,” Ms Trainor said.
At a public meeting held to gauge interest in the community there was an air of optimism.
St Teresa was one of several communities the two were looking at when searching for a spot in rural PEI and it was where the people reached out instantly with open arms.
“We are really happy with the acceptance of the community,” Ms Mosher said.
Both ladies had previously worked at centres in Charlottetown, but with young families of their own they wanted to be closer to home.
It is ideal,” Ms Younker MacDonald said. “Out here all the kids are with the people they will be with from K-12 and it is nice to give them that start.”
“It is nice to have the children meet their future schoolmates,” Ms Mosher added.
There were some naysayers who wondered if they could make a go of it in a rural community, Ms Mosher said, but six months in there are 30 children at the centre and a long waiting list for infant care.
The need for child care across the Island is evident in the fact that a family from Hunter River used their services for a time earlier this year.
Rainbow Beginnings is open from 6:30 am to 6 pm to give parents who commute any distance to work or others such as farmers who don’t have a typical 9-to-5 job the flexibility they need.
The benefits also go beyond filling the need for child care.
Ms Mosher said they support local in a variety of ways from buying local meat and produce to providing six new jobs in the community. Therefore they have become an important part of the economy.
Inside and out the space is perfect for all the activities offered.
The large fenced-in yard is well used every day. Inside mixed in amongst the toys and equipment the business owners brought with them are some treasures from the former school. The boot rack that just needed a touch up with a coat of paint is the same one some of the now parents who bring their kids to the centre used when they attended St Teresa Consolidated. Two room dividers were also taken out of storage and they help to define the space in the centre.
“We did keep a few things around and they are welcome to use them,” Ms Trainor said.
“On behalf of the whole community I just want to say again how glad we are to welcome them here.”