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A new Munchkinland

The new Munchkinland Exploration Centre at Family Place opens Monday, April 8. Here kids test it out at the Family Place grand opening last year. - NEWS FILE PHOTO
The new Munchkinland Exploration Centre at Family Place opens Monday, April 8. Here kids test it out at the Family Place grand opening last year.
— image credit: NEWS FILE PHOTO

The realization of a dream for the area's early learning and literacy coalition comes in the form of its third giant child-sized interactive play centre opening Monday, April 9 in Parksville.

"For us, Munchkinland at Family Place is the completion of a dream we had 13 years ago," said Deborah Davenport, Community Literacy Co-ordinator and president of Building Learning Together (BLT). "We all hoped one day we would have a centralized location but we knew that was a big dream. But see where dreams have taken us."

Grand opening tours for a "look and see" will take place Monday, April 8 from 4-8 p.m. and opening day will be Tuesday, April 9 from 9 a.m. to noon.

This is BLT's third Munchkinland in District 69. BLT is a coalition of community partners made up of over 180 businesses, service clubs and schools, over 20 ministries and agencies, and over 200 individuals.

The partnerships at the new Munchkinland (called Munchkinland Exploration Centre at Family Place) includes Science World, Vancouver Island University and the local senior high schools, among BLT's regular partners. Features at the new centre include a Gizmos and Gadgets room with a large wooden airplane and a First Nations portal to multicultural storytelling including a stage, an archeological dig site and a fire pit. There's a food room that will change from time to time, housing a mini restaurant, bakery, diner or cafe and kids can also enjoy a town centre where they may find a babershop, a post office, a construction assembly plant and other town shops. A baby zone will allow the young ones to join in the play and there will be a science and craft area and lending library kits to take home.

There is also an intergenerational community kitchen and a full garden that will grow flowers and edibles.

Munchkinland Exploration Centre is open Monday though Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon. For more information visit www.sd69.bc.ca/programs/BLT.

• Staff from BLT’s Munchkinland Discovery Centre in Coombs will be returning to staff the new Family Place Munchkinland in Parksville, but that doesn’t mean the Coombs location will be closing.

“That’s just by committing to working differently, to understanding what’s valuable and shifting the resources and personnel to make it work,” said BLT president Deborah Davenport.

Three organizations are committed to working together to keep the centre open: BLT, PacificCARE Child Care Resource and Referral (CCRR) and the Arrowsmith Recreation Team (ART).

CCRR will facilitate two public drop-in days a week at the centre located at the French Creek Community School (Tuesdays and Thursdays) and ART will take the reins Wednesdays mornings  until the end of the school year, all from 9-11 a.m.

ART is endeavouring to fundraise to hire an early childhood educator to facilitate public drop-ins two days a week during the next school year. They have already held one event where they raised $700 which means they have about $2,000 to go.

To donate to ART’s Munchkinland Discovery Centre Fund (in Coombs) contact Marilynn Sims at 250-752-2300 or e-mail mailsims@telus.net.

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