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EOCF helps kids ready, set, grow

by Lauren Gilley / Edmonton Oilers
From the blue and orange decorations covering the walls to the student’s hand-painted t-shirts, Lauderdale School was buzzing on Wednesday morning as the community celebrated the school’s first all-day kindergarten.Thanks to a $300,000, five year commitment made by the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation (EOCF), the fondly dubbed ‘Oilers Kindergarten’ provides a space where children can interact with peers and teachers, increase social skills and build literacy and numeracy competencies.

“We know that by the time children are five years old, their brains are 75% developed,” said Sandra Woitas, Director of the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation. “We have an opportunity here to build a really, really strong foundation for these kids. All the learning that’s going to follow will help them get ready, set and continue to grow.”

With education being one of the primary pillars of support for the EOCF, the importance of full-day kindergarten was recognized immediately and a partnership with the Edmonton Public Schools Foundation and Lauderdale School was a natural fit. When children live in vulnerable circumstances and do not have access to equal opportunity for healthy growth and development, their future is at risk. Through this contribution, Lauderdale School will be able to provide the necessary means to ensure our youngest learners will be awarded every opportunity to reach their full academic potentials.

“It was something that our board felt strongly about doing,” said Natalie Minckler, Executive Director of the EOCF. “This will have a significant impact in these children’s lives and really make Oil Country and our community a better place.” This year’s 22 full-day kindergarten students were all smiles as they showed guests around their classroom, played dress-up and paused momentarily for an impromptu and energetic, “Go Oilers” cheer.

“This is the starting point and the beginning of a great foundation,” remarked Lauderdale School Principal Dorothy Arts as she looked on.

The old adage, “it takes a village to raise a child” truly summed up the celebration at Lauderdale School.

“The Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation is changing lives here. All the research is so solid, full-day kindergarten works,” said Sandra Woitas.

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