Executive director Marion Hardy says goodbye to Whistler after 12 years
It drives Marion Hardy crazy when people refer to her lifes work as babysitting.
"I really, really hope that there will come a day when people will stop referring to early childcare educators as babysitters," said Hardy reflecting on the 12 years she has spent developing early childcare in Whistler and the Sea to Sky corridor.
Hardy leaves at the end of this month to take up a new position as executive director of the Cariboo Childcare Society, a non-profit society operating out of the University College of the Cariboo campus in Kamloops.
"We are highly trained people and the people who care for children do such an incredible job," she said.
"(Child care educators) do a great job and they deserve, at the very least, a great deal of respect."
The director of Childcare Services for the Whistler Childrens Centre and the new Spring Creek Childrens Centre, Hardy has spent most of her life working to create a safe and nurturing environment for children. A place where babies, toddlers and pre-schoolers can learn, feel safe and be loved.
"The research being done shows that the more stimulation, the more quality programs that children are exposed to in the early years the more likely it is for the child to be a well-rounded child in the school system," said Hardy.
Not afraid to think outside the box Hardy has tried numerous programs to meet the demands of a changing Whistler over the last 12 years.
In the early years the group daycare program was aimed at kids whose parents simply wanted them to attend a stimulating program.
"The majority of the parents wanted the children in the daycare program for socialization, not because mom and dad or both had to work.
"Maybe five to 10 per cent of children who attended daycare when I first came here were there because either mom and dad, or both, had to work, or because they were single parents."
But as Whistler began to grow so did the needs of the community. More and more people came here to work and more and more people needed quality childcare for their kids.
Hardy and the board of directors of the Dandelion Daycare Society were always reassessing what needed to be offered.
"We have had to be a little bit more flexible," said Hardy.
"I think we have had to strategize a little bit differently."
Hardy recalled that when the Marmot program first started it was run as a licensed daycare for four hours a day for 16 kids.