Daycare proposal has merit

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Regular contact between youngsters and elderly has been shown to have positive effects on both

Google streetview image of Beach Grove Home seniors' facility in Charlottetown, P.E.I.

Health P.E.I. thinks it has a win-win proposal that will benefit the province’s oldest and youngest residents. The provincial long-term-care facility, Beach Grove Home, has recently had some space open up after the dialysis unit that used to operate there, moved out. The province is looking to lease that space and has hit upon the idea of looking for expressions of interest from private daycare operators.

Nestled between the Lewis Point and Maypoint areas of Charlottetown, overlooking the North River with plenty of green space and walking trails, the location has everything going for it. Except, perhaps, convenience. The area is not really on the well-beaten path into or out of the city.

Whether the lack of a major thoroughfare would deter parents from registering their little ones is a consideration for daycare operators considering applying to lease the space. But it’s not an insurmountable one.

Parents will want the best for their kids and there is some evidence that spending time with senior citizens benefits children. Studies suggest children who have regular contact with seniors have a more positive perception of the elderly and the aging process; they learn empathy and feel a greater connection to their community. There is even evidence these children do better in school.

The benefits work both ways.

Nursing home residents who have regular visits from children have been shown to have better self esteem and less apathy. The visits give them something to look forward to and a connection to what is going on outside the walls of what, for some, can be a lonely and isolating place.

Not all long-term care residents are alike, of course. While we have all seen a wrinkled face light up at the antics of a small visitor, we have likewise all seen the glowering grandpa or grandma who wishes those kids would take their racket elsewhere and leave the aged in peace. Another concern is the amount of cold and flu viruses that seem to run rampant through daycare facilities and the weakened immune systems of long-term-care residents.

It seems to us these concerns do not outweigh the benefits of the proposal. The province has space it can lease and a viable solution for who can occupy it that won’t cost taxpayers, but in fact will bring dollars into the public purse.

Parents complain there aren’t enough licensed daycare spaces and those they do find are sometimes in tight quarters or near busy roads.

Those worried about the noise and disruption the preschoolers would bring with them can rest assured the youngsters will have their own entrance and their scheduled visits will happen in the common room. If any residents want to shut themselves up in their rooms while the rugrats spread their cheer — or their viruses — they may do so.

If parents are not crazy about the idea of their children visiting strange adults, they do not have to register their children at whichever daycare sets up at Beach Grove Home. Spaces would naturally open up elsewhere as other parents do choose the novel approach to childcare.

Thank you Brett

Sixty-five schools, hundreds of kilometres and many boxes of Tim Bits later, Brett Robinson has wrapped up the 2014 Easter Seals tour of Prince Edward Island schools.

The eight-week tour saw Brett and his supporters criss-cross the province on the Tim Hortons bus raising not only money, but also awareness about the Easter Seals campaign. Charlottetown Rural High School, Brett’s home school, was the last one on the schedule. Through a variety of fundraising initiatives, the school raised an amazing $24,246 for Easter Seals.

Brett, who uses a communication device to speak, isn’t normally lost for words but on this day he was when it came to the amount of money his school raised. “I don’t how to say . . .” he said, before stopping. But he didn’t have to say anything more, his joyful smile said it all.

Organizations: Tim Hortons, Rural High School

Geographic location: Charlottetown, Lewis Point, North River Prince Edward Island

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