One playcentre closes, another grows stronger

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Two Timaru playcentres will merge to deal with low numbers and a lack of family support.
Washdyke Playcentre will hold its last session on August 31, before joining with Parkside Playcentre in the first week of September.
Washdyke Playcentre and South Canterbury Playcentre Association president Elle Mitchell said the move was an ‘‘emotional one’’ but was essential due to a lack of children in Washdyke able to attend the centre.
‘‘Since the school [Washdyke School] closed [in 2003-04], there has been a decline in enrolment numbers and when I started four years ago, there were two other families,’’ Mrs Mitchell said.
‘‘There are currently eight families and 13 children. Having low numbers of families attending also affects the running of the centre, as there aren’t as many people to rely on for all the committee roles needed and also to do the fundraising to keep the centre operational.’’
In its heyday, 40-plus families were involved with the centre and two sessions a day were required.
Mrs Mitchell said the playcentre was set up in the 1970s at Seadown, moving to the Washdyke location in Racecourse Rd in the early 1980s.
She said while the move was sad for the centre and the families who had been involved throughout the years, there was a silver lining.
‘‘The unfortunate thing is that Washdyke Playcentre will cease to operate but the fortunate is that Parkside will gain new families and have more children attending, thus becoming a thriving early childhood education option for more families to join in the fun of attending a parentled education facility for under-6-year-olds.’’
At this stage, she was unsure of what would happen to the playcentre’s building as it was part owned by the South Canterbury Playcentre Association and part owned by the Ministry of Education.
As part of the merger, Mrs Mitchell invited any past members or families of the Washdyke Playcentre to come along to the centre on Wednesday, August 31, from 9.30am to noon.
‘‘We will have a morning tea and share stories and memories and close the door for the final time at 12pm.’’ – Anyone wanting more information is asked to contact Elle Mitchell on 021 177-8562.