Last Friday was a big day for the educators, children and their parents at the Clutha Valley Playcentre as they celebrated 50 years in operation.
Now part of Playcentre Aotearoa, the Clutha Valley Playcentre was originally formed by Gwen Treacy and Lorna Anderson, who applied on March 12, 1969, for a licence from the Otago Southland Playcentre Association, because they saw a need for pre-school education the valley.
Mrs Paddy MacFarlane was the first supervisor.
The centre opened with 17 children, using the old Clutha Valley school hall as a base, which they later shared with the scouts.
In 1976 the centre moved into the old Clutha Valley school science room, co-sharing it with the pupils on a time-share basis, so the centre had to repack all its equipment after each session.
By 1981 there were 30 children on the roll and in 1986 the centre had to undertake major alterations to comply with new ministry requirements.
In 1990 it became an early education centre, again to comply with new standards and regulations.
After 1993 the centre was allowed to offer three sessions a week to cope with demand from young families in the district.
In February 2009, it moved into a new centre behind the newly built Clutha Valley School, after several years of community fund-raising and was allowed to offer four-hour-long sessions.
Mrs McArthur, who has been there since the big move 10 years ago, said they were seeing the third generation of children coming to the centre.
“We currently have three families here with their third generation of family members attending our sessions.”
She said 18 children from 13 families attend the three, four-hour-long sessions held each week at the centre.
“We are proud that the centre is still here. It is a place for all our children to come to and play, and let their parents work or have some time off.
“We currently have two parent helpers and when we need help, the whole community get’s right behind us.”
She said it was great that all their children go on to the Clutha Valley School when they turn 5, and the young children are fortunate to be able to see their older siblings each day.
The 50th jubilee started with a morning tea, followed by a tree planting and a rose planting, before a cake cutting.