Ready, Set, Grow! Okanagan College Foundation kicks off its Sunflower Childcare Centre Campaign with an inspiring event at the Vernon Campus

By Kevin Parnell | March 15, 2023

A young child plans ping pong toss with their parent.
Sarina Parsons, student parent at Okanagan College’s Vernon Campus, speaking at the Sunflower Childcare Centre Campaign Launch event with her daughter Roxy Rae on her hip.

Enthusiastic young volunteers led games and activities at the launch of Okanagan College Foundation’s $1.25 million campaign in support of a new on-campus childcare centre, planned to open in the fall of 2024.

Held on Mar. 1 at OC’s Vernon campus, the event drew 65 guests and celebrated the kickoff of the Sunflower Childcare Centre fundraising campaign. Donor and former College instructor Lloyd Davies spoke about his family’s decision to contribute $500,000 to the cause.
"Time and again, I would have students missing class, missing labs, missing exams because they were struggling to get affordable, reliable childcare. It was an ongoing issue for student parents," said Davies.

“Through this campaign we hope to inspire the community to support more parents with young children to be able to attend post-secondary here in Vernon, and to benefit from the programs available at Okanagan College as they advance in their careers and contribute to the community.”
Sarina Parsons, a student parent, says she struggled to find childcare while balancing her course schedule – and it added stress to her experience. "The Sunflower Childcare Centre will allow parents to focus on their goals and aspirations while knowing their most precious little ones are being cared for in a loving and nurturing environment."

The Sunflower Childcare Centre is part of the new student housing project at the College’s Vernon campus, which will see 100-beds built on the east side of the property, overlooking Kalamaka Lake.

The BC Childcare New Spaces Fund has committed $1.5 million to the Centre, with Lloyd Davies and his wife Janet Armstrong contributing a leadership-level gift of $500,000. The community campaign, now officially underway, aims to raise the remaining $750,000 required to complete the project and ensure it is fully equipped, including an outdoor play and learn space when its doors open in fall 2024.  
According to a recent report commissioned by the City of Vernon, 51 per cent of local parents are on waitlists for childcare, and the typical wait time is two years.  
"With community support, the Sunflower Childcare Centre will blossom into a vibrant space where student parents and their families can grow and thrive," says Helen Jackman, executive director of Okanagan College Foundation. “The event was a great way to launch the campaign, and we’re excited to connect with the community in support of the new Centre.”




Sign up for weekly stories


Communications student standing outside the Centre for Learning building at the Kelowna campus
Meet Ruth Gabriela Melo Flores

April 4, 2023

Q: What's your name? A: Ruth Gabriela Melo Flores Q: What's your hometown? A: Quito – Ecuador – South America Q: How did you end up at Okanagan College? A: Well, I studied for a bachelor's degree in Law in Ecuador. Then, I worked for a while and got my Master's degree in Government and Culture of Organizations at the University of Pamplona.  When I returned to my country, professional opportunities arose for me. I mean, a Master's degree improved my career. Spain helped me develop ...

Animation student
Artistic students design future careers in animation

June 7, 2022

Grads of Okanagan College’s Animation Diploma program are finding their skills have never been in higher demand. First- and second-year students showed samples of their artwork and demo reels to industry partners at OC’s annual Animation Industry Night on May 17. “Lots of the work was very professional,” says James Wood, Chair of Okanagan College’s Animation Department. “Our program is short, but intense. The instructors make sure the students have a realistic understanding of what they need do to succeed in a competitive and demanding wo...

JAMK campus
OC Business students embrace international study again

May 30, 2022

Business students from Okanagan College are once again able to travel to Jyväskylä, Finland to experience an international summer school at the JAMK University of Applied Sciences.  Finland’s education system is widely regarded as one of the best in the world.  OC Business Professor Blair Baldwin, who has taught Services Design at JAMK for several summers, says working in Finland has helped him innovate and create new teaching methodologies. “JAMK employs experiential learning across its curriculum,” he says. “They stress critical thinkin...

Enactus 2022
Enactus Okanagan College tops the field, sets sights on national championships

May 27, 2022

Okanagan College students will once again be competing for the Canadian title after qualifying for the Enactus National Exposition with a first-place finish in their league during the semi-final round. Enactus teams at post-secondary institutions across Canada competed virtually earlier this month, and Okanagan College scooped up top position in the TD Entrepreneurship Challenge, and runner-up in the Scotiabank Climate Action Challenge for the Unusually Good Food Co. project. It also included national runner-up in Shaw and RBC accelerators...