Roseberry Day Nursery was established in September 1976 in the Bethel Baptist Church, at 205 Roseberry Street following almost 9 months of planning and preparation. By the end of the first month of operation the Day Nursery had a registration of 25 children, which quickly increased to 30 children. The original Board of Directors for the Nursery consisted of three people: Anne Penner (the first Administrative Director), Elaine Wilson and Douglas Cook. In 1983, the Day Nursery moved into larger quarters in the Annex of the old Britannia School on Hampton and, in 1985, changed its name to Discovery Children’s Centre. Ron Blatz became the Administrative Director for the Centre in November 1982.
Discovery Children’s Centre has steadily increased in size. The 30 full time and 10 part time spaces in 1976 became 170 spaces by 2001. During the first decade two new programs were added to the existing Pre-School program. In 1982, Discovery Children’s Centre became the first centre in Manitoba to receive a staffing grant for the purpose of integrating children with a variety of special needs. This has continued to be an important part of Discovery’s vision and services to this day.
In 1984, Discovery expanded its vision again and included School-Age children as part of the centre. By 1990, Discovery had grown to its maximum allowed size of 70 spaces, (40 preschool and 30 school-age). Discovery had also by this time started a Nursery School (Pre-Kindergarten) program to accommodate another one of the community’s needs.
When provincial regulations changed, Discovery Centre further expanded its services in November 1996 by extending its hours to accommodate parents working shifts or evening retail hours. This expansion came with much help from the Winnipeg Foundation, as no government start-up funding was available at the time. 1996 was our 20th anniversary and culminated in $65,000.00 playground development.
Further expansion in the flex program came in December 1998, when the Board decided to extend operating hours to Saturday as well. Discovery is now open 18 hours per day fromMonday through Saturday.
The budget of the Centre has grown with enrolment, and with the recognition of the importance of Early Learning and Child Care facilities in Manitoba. From a modest budget of $42,000.00 ($23,000.00 from government grants) in its first year of operation, the Centre now has an annual budget of $2,000,000.00 to provide childcare services in the community. Over the years, the Centre has also received a number of grants from the King Edward Community Improvement Program, Community Incentive Grant, Community Places, Manitoba Community Services Council, and the Winnipeg Foundation to acquire a variety of indoor/outdoor equipment. At present, Discovery Children’s Centre employs 45 full time staff and 5 part time staff.
In December 1992, the Centre was honoured when John Harvard (MP) selected Ron Blatz, the Executive Director to receive “The Commemorative Medal for the 125th Anniversary of the Confederation of Canada.” The creation of the medal announced by the Governor General of Canada was given to individuals who have made a significant contribution to their fellow citizens, their community of Canada. It was Mr. Ron Blatz’s involvement with Discovery Children’s Centre and the Centre’s long standing commitment to St. James that earned him this honour.
In June 2001, Ron Blatz the Executive Director was honoured when the Manitoba Child Care Associations presented him with the “Child Care Director of the Year” award. In December of the same year the centre opened up an Infant/Toddler program with $60,000.00 of assistance from the Winnipeg Foundation and moved into the south wing of the building with some of its expanded school age spots.
The Centre’s latest expansion involves the opening of a new “Christian” Pre-school program. This expansion followed the completion of $100,000.00 of interior renovations and the move of our entire School-age program into the south wing.
A few years later the Centre was driven by a need to provide children broader experiences in nature, and an increasingly over-crowded front yard, and thus began the development of an “Adventure Playground” in 2005. With this innovative development, Discovery Centre has again shown itself to be a leader in the provision of high quality Early Learning and Care programs. This journey to re-connect children to nature has continued and will result in a pilot “Forest School” project beginning in the fall of 2015.
In February of 2021 our Executive Director, Ron Blatz retired from his work at Discovery Children’s Centre. Ron’s career with Discovery spanned over 40 years and he served as the Executive Director since 1981. He superintended the organization through its relocation in the early 80’s and its growth into Manitoba’s largest single site Child Care facility. Ron’s passion for connecting children to nature was a driving force behind Discovery Centre developing the Two Week Outdoor Challenge and implementing Manitoba’s first Field and Forest Nature School. Ron was also involved internationally with the World Forum Foundation and sat on the International Advisory Group. He insisted on providing high quality child care and learning and never lost his passion for improving the lives of children both at Discovery Children’s Centre and in programs beyond.
DISCOVERY CHILDREN’S CENTRE HIGHLIGHTS
|1976||Opens as Pre-school care in Bethel Baptist Church|
|1981||Ron Blatz was hired as Executive Director of the Centre|
|1982||Becomes recipient of 1st Handi-cap Staffing Grant in Manitoba|
|1983||Moves to Britannia School Annex Building|
|1984||School-age program begins|
|1989||Nursery School program begins|
|1996||Flex (flexible) program opens|
|1996||$65,000.00 playground development (play structures in front)|
|1998||Flex program receives Government funding|
|1998||Saturday care begins in the Flex program|
|2001||Infant/Toddler program is opened|
|2001||School-age program expands into south wing|
|2002||$100,000.00 of interior renovations completed|
|2003||Christian Pre-school program opens|
|2005||Adventure Playground development begins|
|2006||Nursery school program gets funded|
|2007||$160,000.00 redevelopment of both of our kitchens|
|2011||Exterior doors installed in room #2 & #4|
|2012||$65,000 “Play Garden” & deck completed in front yard.|
|2014||68 trees planted in the “Back 40” (east)|
|2015||Field & Forest Nature School programs begins|
|2016||$120,000 re-development of back parking lot & entrance|
|2018||Nature Nursery program begins|
|2018||Exterior door in Flex room installed|
|2019||19 trees planted in “back forty” (west)|
|2021||Ron Blatz Executive Director Retires- February 19, 2021|