Chocolate cake and plenty of play

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Preschoolers at Phoenix Preschool made a special chocolate cake to share with staff and invited guests last week as part of the first anniversary at their new complex on the corner of Middle and Belt roads.

Invited guests, Roger Paterson and Carolyn Clough, were representing three organisations who assisted with major grants funding to help with the fitout of the preschool’s outdoor area.

Roger, representing Braided Rivers Community Trust, and Lions Foundation, and Carolyn, from Advance Ashburton, saw first hand how much enjoyment the children got from the outdoor area which has agespecific spaces offering craft stations, playgrounds, sandpits, smooth concrete paths which double as bike tracks, gentle grassy hills, a mini marae, and outdoor wash basins.

Centre manager Ange Ross said ‘‘these lovely people are the people that have helped us build our whole playground.’’

She got preschoolers to give them a ‘‘great big clap’’ and say their favourite activities in the outdoor area.

The sandpit, bikes, tractors, vegetable gardens, swing, and climbing fort rated high for the preschoolers.

She invited preschoolers George Hurst, 4, Angus Fallaver, 5, and Archie Copland, 4, to present handcrafted thank you cards – with a handshake – to the guests.

Preschool teacher Marion Logan then cut the cake with preschooler Teddy Waters, 4.

Phoenix board chair Rachel Thomas said funding from the organisations had enabled the preschool to achieve so much in such a short time.

The initial development was mostly funded by the Ministry of Education, with local organisations and community members pitching in to help fund further enhancements to the preschool’s design, particularly the outdoor area which is much larger than its former site.

The preschool, operating for 39 years and catering to children aged from five months to school entry, was located on Walnut Avenue.

Its relocation was part of a bigger picture plan for the rebuild at Ashburton College.

The modern facility boasts purpose-built kitchen and washroom facilities, a nonmobile space for children with limited mobility, an extended sleep room, and the interactive indoor areas complementing the outdoors in providing all-day enrichment for the children.