Smart with Design, Smart with Space
For many boutique sized childcare centres, making the most of interior space and maximising children’s activity areas are key considerations in the selection of furniture and resources. Simon Helwani Director of Laugh and Learn Early Learning Centre found the solution and advice that not only suited his centre’s philosophy, but also its floor space.
Located in Miranda, Laugh and Learn is a purpose-built facility licensed for 42 children and ideally situated next door to the local public school. The centre was designed by Simon and Luisa Helwani and opened in 2013.
It was in the initial stage of architect drawings that Dan Kennard from STE Products became involved. STE was one of four suppliers proposed by the architect when costing the contract. Over the duration of a challenging build that unexpectedly took 18 months Simon recalls, “Dan Kennard was the only supplier who kept coming back and talking to me. Even though Luisa and I designed the centre, it was our first service and we wanted to know the practicalities of setup.”
“Dan was able to source anything I wanted and actually came in and designed the height of tables, the colour of the chairs to reflect the names of the rooms and the mobile shelving I needed. He advised what would work in the various rooms, what was too bulky and what was most practical.”
Preparation for certification and having the centre resourced and ready to operate is a milestone for any centre. The STE team helped ease the business pressure involved with the licensing process by supplying what was needed to meet the requirements on time.
“Dan was not about selling us everything, he knew what was needed to establish a centre adequately and was really helpful. He understood the enormous outlay of funds before the doors are even open. So from that point of view things were very straight forward, Dan said they would deliver everything, they delivered and set it all up. It went very smoothly,” explains Simon.
Laugh and Learn has a high proportion of additional needs children and delivers a program to cater for those with sensory issues. Various zones are set up in the centre that collectively make the environment for individual children more calming. STE supplied resources from Mobilo construction toys for fine motor skills to a small scale kitchen which the children love for imaginative play and use everyday.
What first got Simon’s attention with STE’s range were the stackable beds. These lightweight easy to handle beds meant storage was not an issue. As Simon explains “We’re not a big service with an abundance of room and we had to be smart with what we had. Our staff are really impressed not only with the beds, but also the Ergo cots which are very functional. These cots look a little bit different being higher than you’d expect, but when you release the sides the sleeping area is at hip height. It means staff aren’t bending over to tend to the children and can stand comfortably to do this. They can also easily see more than one child at a time.”
Simon and Luisa’s positive experience with STE supplying resources for Laugh and Learn has continued from the centre’s opening. Simon describes the STE team as “fantastic, reliable and honest. The delivery & set up team were great, the girls in the office are very kind to deal with and easy to talk to. And as far as Dan is concerned, I asked, he answered and he delivered.