To provide the Best Start in life possible to the children in the community of Los Medranos (the home of the Skylark Retreat Centre) from conception to three years of age.
The Best Start in Christ program launched in 2008 when Canadian Missionary, Heather Murch, felt a tug on her heart to provide basic knowledge and resources to the mothers she came in contact with, many of whom were under the age of 18, to have access to spiritual, social, and physical support in the early years development of their children.
"Tiernito" is an affectionate term used in Nicaragua for a newborn. This bi-weekly drop-in program for mothers and their babies provides opportunities for mothers to learn about early stimulation and proper nutrition relevant to the baby’s first year of life. It also encourages the growth of the bond between mother and baby.
"Chigüin" is a Nicaraguan term for a toddler. This program is offered once a week for mothers and their one year olds. It is designed to encourage early learning development and creativity for the children. Children and mothers explore activity stations together and mothers get advice on how to incorporate learning through play and healthy nutrition at home.
Once the children turn two years of age they are incorporated into the program's pre-school. The programs for this age group takes place on Monday through Friday mornings during each week of the standard school year. The focus is on assisting the children in their social, cognitive and language development, incorporated with learning about a God who loves them very much. Parents are strongly encouraged to volunteer regularly to the operation of the pre-school.
Once the children graduate from the Best Start in Christ program they continue their education in the Community Preschools. We are pleased to provide occasional practical support to these pre-schools.
Out-of-country visitors to the Skylark Centre will often bring and donate items such as children's clothing, shoes, sleepwear, etc. These items are placed into our Tiendita and made available for sale to participants in our Best Start in Christ, Maternal Health and Building a Better Future programs. Selling the items rather than simply giving them out aligns with our philosophy of providing a hand up as opposed to a hand out. Prices are set so as to be affordable for community members. Funds raised through the sales are directed back into the programs.