When the opportunity arose for Young Academics Early Learning to team up with Algeo Property Group we jumped at the opportunity. The chance to bring to Elderslie a small suburb in the South West of Sydney, surrounded by the quiet country town of Camden a state of the art, modern child care centre, was one that we knew would benefit everyone in this ever growing community and provide parents with an alternative.
The beginning of our journey was not an easy one, numerous residents opposed the introduction of a large multi-story child care service coming into their street. We worked with our builder and council to ensure that we addressed the concerns of those who would be our future neighbours. This included a large basement car park to reduce street parking, adapting the façade of the building and fences that neighbours would see. Many of the residents who opposed the service attended our open day with only lovely things to say.
The building of Elderslie took a long time, with many workmen putting in the hard labour each day. There was not a day when you would drive past and there were not multiple trades on site all working towards a deadline and wanting to see the finished product.
For anyone visiting the site during construction it quickly become apparent just how large the service would be, walking around on the concrete slab, around and through were future doors that were to go; imagining the rooms filled with the laughter of children and the singing of educators. All that visited saw the site as the future, the future for not only Early Childhood Services in the suburbs but also the future for Young Academics.
As walls went up and the inside started to take shape, we knew that this service would hold challenges to our educators and children, the multi-story building can still seem like a maze, despite the easy direct access to every level via the lift. So we knew that time had to be taken on training and picking just the right educators with just the right amount of experience for this centre. The balance was found and our educators began on the 14th March for a week of training and learning the site.
As we saw the inside change we also watched the outside change: turf was laid, sandpits were built, and soft fall was laid. The sheer height of the service and the layout of the yards ensure the children in the 0-2 rooms have an amazing view of the rolling hills and country side that Camden is famous for.
While the building of a service so large is sure to have issues, we are pleased to say that ours were minimal, the usual delays with the lift, delays with plumbing just meant we had more time to plan, more time to train and more time to think about the spaces and what they could be, as well as the potential they had. How many other services have the space we have, the multiple parent lounges, the break out space for educators the size of many 1 bedroom apartments, the dedicated programming room. Time and care was taken putting the building together and time and care was taken adding each and every piece of furniture, toy and art that you see.
Setting up Elderslie came during a very hot week in March. We were working towards our open day deadline and wanted everything just right. The lift was not operational but our team kept working hard all week carrying furniture up and down stairs, setting up rooms, cleaning rooms and making everything change; in a week we went from a building site to a child care centre!
Open day saw many families from the community come for a look around as well as those in the community who wanted a sticky beak. This was our first test - would the community love it as much as we did? The centre did us proud and a number of enrolments came on the spot for families keen to be the first family in this brand new service. This was also the first test for our new Elderslie educator team; working together, conducting tours and ensuring the day was a success.
When our first day of operation came we were all so keen to get started, to have children running around, to see smiling laughing faces that we didn’t stop smiling ourselves. We continue to reach milestones every day, each day a new child commences care or an existing child runs into the room from the lift excited to be here. We know the hard work was worth it and we know the time it took was worth it.
This achievement inspires us to do it again and again. Where will we go next?