“The best party ever” is how one young reveller described the official opening of the Mulberry Tree Learning Centre on the Killala Road in Ballina which took place on Friday last (September 19 ).
Approximately 100 children and their parents joined local politicians, health care professionals and members of the Ballina business community in celebrating the opening of this new facility which caters for all ages from babies to teens.
While parents toured the toddler, wobbler and baby facilities the children were kept busy with face painting, puppet shows, a mad scientist, a disco and bouncy castles as well as having the run of the outdoor play area, the indoor sand room and the computer room. There were also visits by Shrek and Mickey Mouse. No wonder they had such a good time.
Speaking at the opening of the facility Jenny Bernard of the HSE said that the centre was an important addition to the child care facilities in Mayo and congratulated Breege Jackson on the quality and range of services at the purpose-built facility. She said that there was a lot to learn from businesswomen like Breege in terms of quality, leadership, management and being responsive to the customers – both parents and children. Jenny also spoke of how the name, the Mulberry Tree Learning Centre, had a special connotation for her as she had spent many happy childhood years playing around a mulberry tree on her uncles farm in Somerset.
Breege Jackson, the owner and manager of the centre, said that the growing demand to be able to provide a range of childcare services from babies to after-school is what had prompted her to consider expanding her already successful crèche. She said the new centre had been designed to provide a space where children could be stimulated mentally and physically while acquiring the life skills they need: the ability to interact with others; to negotiate for themselves; to be independent and to problem solve. She said: “I always say to parents that the most important thing they can do for their children is to allow them to play with other children. As family sizes are much smaller these days, children are depending on us to provide this opportunity to play and form these important relationships. Here at the Mulberry Tree Learning Centre we encourage them to do this in a caring and supportive environment with staff that are trained to the highest standards and committed to each child’s development.”
The centre was blessed by Father Muredach Tuffy and Reverend Susan Patterson, who blessed all the children who attend it and all the staff who care for them. It was officially opened by local author Morag Prunty, who spoke as a working mother of her own experiences of trying to find suitable childcare. She told of how her own mother had been a childcare professional in the UK and it was through her that Morag had discovered Breege’s crèche in Dillon Terrace. She pointed out that this was the only crèche in Dublin or Mayo that had come up to her mother’s extremely high standards of childcare and talked of how happy her son Leo had been there. Leo too seemed to be enjoying the fun on Thursday and went home grinning with a bunch of brightly coloured mulberry tree balloons.