A groundbreaking ceremony has marked the beginning of a new chapter in the story of Hope Preschool.
On Saturday, the first spadefuls of turf were dug over to mark the start of a project to build a purpose-built facility for the Mataura preschool.
The preschool, which began in 2014, is operated by the The Hope Education Charitable Trust.
At present it is housed in the Mataura Christian Church.
Hope Preschool manager Lisa Thomas said it was time for the preschool to expand and have its own building.
“Over time we came to realise that we were well established and would like to be able to have a permanent home and provide for more children and families,” Mrs Thomas said.
“We look forward to having our own home in the future.”
When the preschool initially started, it was licensed for 20 children.
“As our roll and then waiting list grew, we soon increased our licence to 25, the maximum for our current facility.”
There had been many challenges along the way “but we have always been blessed by the support of the local community,” Mrs Thomas said.
“We have had almost 200 children attend since we started.”
The new facility will have two rooms and be licensed for 45, and include children of a wider age range than was catered for now.
Mrs Thomas declined to comment on how much the project would cost.
Work on the facility, which would be completed by Mataura building firm Ashby and McAllister, started on Thursday.
“It was pretty exciting.”
Mrs Thomas expected the building would be finished some time next year.
Trust member Alan Taylor said some people might wonder why they would build a new preschool.
“I think it was the third president of the United States that said ‘children are out most valuable resource’, ” Mr Taylor said.
While adults aimed to teach children about life “our children teach us what life is about”, he said.
“We are here today because of our children and the vision we have for them in our community.”
Community Trust South made a grant of $250,000 for the project in February last year.
Trust South chairwoman Trish Boyle said the trust was glad to be a funder of the project.
“This project strongly contributes to our education priorities .. to support 0- to 5-year-old children in our region to have the best start, with a focus on ensuring children are well prepared to succeed by the time they start school,” Mrs Boyle said.
Other funding of $400,000 was provided by the Ministry of Education.
Ministry sector enablement and support deputy secretary Katrina Casey said the funding came from the targeted assistance for participation scheme.
“The purpose of the scheme is to increase participation of tamariki from Maori, Pacific and low socio-economic whanau in priority areas.”