It’s 40 years of kids’ stuff

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Frankton Playcentre marks its 40th anniversary this Sunday – and it has plenty to celebrate. 

A Mad Hatters’ tea party will be staged at the preschool’s new building, beside Remarkables Primary, for past as well as present playcentre kids. 

With 67 children and 51 families, the centre is in “the strongest position we’ve ever been in”, grants and promotions coordinator Juli Stickler says. 

As an example, a new Monday afternoon session is about to start, on top of five morning sessions and one on Friday afternoon for three- and four-year-olds. 

The playcentre – which won the education and child youth development section of the last Queenstown Lakes community awards – moved into its new facility last April. 

Originally housed in the Frankton Presbyterian church hall, it spent 28 years in an Allan Crescent building by the domain, before it was demolished to make way for the Remarkables Primary school. 

Bulk-funded by the Ministry of Education, it also relies on a lot of fundraising and grants. 

Recently it’s been buying play equipment which hadn’t been replaced pending the relocation – shade sails are the next project. 

Stickler says much of the playcentre’s success comes down to parental involvement. 

“The playcentre ethos is that children learn alongside their parents. 

“Just that extra family/community support is particularly important in Queenstown, where a lot of us don’t have extended family. 

“People develop networks and in times of crisis or a new child, or whatever else, we really see the playcentre community step up.” 

Nicky Thompson, one of the playcentre’s four parental educators, adds: “It’s a great place for parents to come along and have some fun with the children, and for the children to do some learning in a playful, relaxing environment. 

“At the same time you build up your support network of friends to call on when the need arises.” 

A parents’ reunion, hopefully including founding members, will be held over winter. 

Sunday’s Mad Hatters’ tea party, featuring snacks, party games and a birthday cake, runs from 11am till 1.30pm.