May 1, 1998
FORMER DAYCARE YOUNGSTER - NOW A CENTRE EMPLOYEE - HELPS CELEBRATE 30 YEARS OF CHILDCARE AT SFU
Osialine Wilson and Simon Fraser University's co-op daycare were barely two-years-old when their paths crossed in 1970.
Wilson attended the daycare while her mother was an education student. Now, both are 30 - and Wilson is back among children. A senior supervisor at the SFU Childcare Centre, Wilson will have a special reason to celebrate at the centre's 30th anniversary open house on May 23.
"It seems like what goes around, comes around," says Wilson, who supervises a dozen children between one and three-years-old in the Malaika program, one of 11 now 'home' to 250 full- and part-time children.
Wilson was among 20 children who attended the early daycare, which was run in an adult lounge in the rotunda, overlooking the university entrance. The children had one supervisor and a team of volunteer parents.
"The children pretty much determined what we'd do," she says. "If we wanted to play, we played. It was a different time. Now there is more routine, and we focus on the childrens' individual needs."
Wilson remembers rolling down the hill by the track, the smell of blue vinyl mats at naptime, playing around adult furniture in the lounge and looking for the 'candy man' - janitor Ted Sinnot. "He came by often, and when he did, we had to sing the Candy Man song, which was popular then, and he'd give us a treat," Wilson recalls. "I remember his cart, and how when it rained, we'd try to find him."
Other images - such as the fish in the pond - provide flashbacks during daily walks with the children around campus.
"I've been taking care of kids all my life," says Wilson, who grew up as the neighborhood babysitter and helped care for a younger brother and cousins. Raised in the Kootenays, where her mother is a high school teacher, she returned to complete her early childhood education training at Douglas College. During a practicuum at the Kids' Daycare at Royal Columbian Hospital in 1991, she got a call to fill in as a substitute at SFU's Morningside program - and stayed for two years. A string of maternity leaves allowed her to remain until a permanent spot opened up at Malaika.
While some still think of child care workers as "high paid babysitters," Wilson says child care is becoming a more respected field. "It's not just about dealing with children," says Wilson. "We answer to the parents, the child care society and co-workers, to create a team environment. We want everything to flow smoothly; when it does, the children benefit.
"The work can be draining and the pay is low," Wilson adds. "But there are rewards. I've seen children who were a challenge, flourish. Some of them are now in other programs, and it's great to be able to watch them grow. We put our hearts into this. After all, they are precious cargo."
CONTACT: Marianne Meadahl, SFU media/pr office, 291.4323
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