The importance of education took center stage this week when Chickasaw Nation leaders and Ardmore city officials broke ground to begin an 18-month project to offer area children an opportunity to learn and grow.
When completed, the 26,000-square-foot Ardmore Early Childhood Development Center will provide educational opportunities for more than 200 Chickasaw children and non-Native children, from 6 weeks to 4 years old, in the Ardmore area.
“We believe that investing in our children is vital to the long-term well-being of the tribe. It is important for a child to benefit from a positive educational environment just as early as possible in their lives,” Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby told a large crowd that gathered for the groundbreaking ceremony.
“The critical time for a child’s development is from birth to three years. Our child development program strives to challenge and stimulate this developmental capacity of our children,” he said. “In Ada, we provide the opportunity year-round and we are excited now to extend the same service to people who live within the city of Ardmore.
“When we complete the facility, this will create 60 new jobs (for) this area,” Gov. Anoatubby said. In an interview following the groundbreaking, he said it was important to the tribe to partner with communities, to provide employment and engage in economic growth whenever possible.
The Ardmore facility will be patterned after the award-winning Chickasaw Nation Child Development in Ada. The Ardmore center is designed to be a learning facility which fosters education and growth for each child in a nurturing environment.
It will feature four themed corridors – a town, a zoo, the mountains and a farm—including 17 classrooms, indoor and outdoor play areas, three storm shelter rooms, a commercial style kitchen, library, media center, exercise areas and more.
The child care center’s design not only allows opportunities to strengthen social skills and develop cognitive skills, it also helps develop a positive self-image for each child and helps the children connect with the Chickasaw heritage.
One example of this would be the Chickasaw language that will be incorporated into the facility through signage.
The Ada child development center was featured in the 2010 spring issue of American School Board Journal’s Learning By Design magazine for an Outstanding Project award. The magazine recognizes the nation’s best education design and construction projects by publishing outstanding pre-kindergarten to 12th grade and college or university projects.
The Ardmore Early Childhood Development Center will be located on the corner of Chickasaw Boulevard and Locust St. N.W. in Ardmore, just south of the Chickasaw Nation Wellness Center.