A Portstewart child day care centre has been named as the best indoor community learning environment in Northern Ireland.
Stepping Stones won the award at the recent Families First ceremony with the judge praising its staff’s professionalism and the spaces they had created to stimulate learning and creativity.
The not-for-profit provider also offers extra activities like daily songs, creative movement and dance in addition to an outdoor science learning environment.
Stepping Stones was also runner-up in the Best Community Day Care category in the same awards.
The trophies were presented by a Northern Ireland radio presenter and comedian May McFettridge at a gala dinner at the Tullyglass House hotel, Ballymena.
Stepping Stones’ manager Christina McFarland said: “It is a great endorsement of the professionalism of our 23 staff and how they have created a first-class learning and caring environment.” Between its creche, pre-school and new after schools facilities it caters for 110 children weekly.”
The award comes as the day care facility is expanding helped by a £85,000 grant from the Coastal Communities Fund. It will launch a holiday club in July and August for primary children and has just doubled the capacity of its baby care facilities.
It has also invested in state-of-the art digital technology to keep parents up-to-date on their child’s care throughout the day.
The developments are part of Stepping Stones’ history of pioneering new approaches to childcare since it was the first crèche founded in Northern Ireland 44 years ago on the Coleraine campus of Ulster University.
It has expanded since moving to bigger newly refurbished premises beside Convention Avenue car park on Church Street just behind the promenade in Portstewart in 2016.