The founder of Nanaimo Innovation Academy has received a provincial award for her efforts in providing child care.
According to a press release, Nanaimo Innovation Academy’s Keely Freeman has been awarded the Emerging Leader Award at this year’s B.C. Child Care Awards for Excellence.
The non-profit academy offers licensed daycare for children from infancy to kindergarten age and utilizes a number of philosophies, including Waldorf, Montessori and play-based learning, according to the press release.
Freeman received the award due to her “knack for connecting people and mobilizing community members to make a meaningful impact,” the press release said.
She has committed to increasing her early childhood educators’ pay, with a promise of increasing their pay annually by $1 until they reach $30 an hour. Other initiatives include partnering with Vancouver Island University to support early childhood educator practicum students and one which will see local farmers introducing children to principles of nutrition and farm-to-table food, the press release said.
Freeman opened the academy when she was nine months pregnant with her second child and needed child care for her one-and-a-half-year-old son.
Elected representatives in the area congratulated Freeman on the award.
Doug Routley, Nanaimo-North Cowichan MLA, said he was happy to see Freeman receiving recognition for her work supporting children and families in the Nanaimo area and said she has shown dedication and a commitment to helping the next generation of early childhood educators.
“The [awards] recognize the child care heroes in our communities who have gone above and beyond to support families, and I couldn’t think of a better person to receive such an award then Keely,” the MLA said.