Grace Kids Centre, in Chellapuram on the outskirts of Kodaikanal, was the first crèche opened by the Betsy Elizabeth Trust in 1990, and it now provides day care for 50 children, aged 2-5. The annual running costs are funded by the ASHA for Education organisation, a partner of the Betsy Elizabeth Trust.
India Project teams of students and teachers have contributed to the development of this crèche by investing in many construction and renovation projects over the years. Projects have included the renovation of the kitchen and classrooms, painting of educational murals, the construction of a porch, a new classroom and border walls around the site, as well as the creation of a new playground.
Each year during their visit, the students purchase crèche supplies, providing blankets, floor mats and kitchenware, as well as sandals, sweaters, and caps to keep the children warm during monsoon season. The team also ensures access to healthcare by funding the crèche nurse, first-aid medication, and a weekly doctor’s visit for sick children.
Another important initiative is to provide the 5 year-old graduating children with a new school backpack, including notebooks, pens and the supplies they need for a positive start in primary school.
Of all the work invested to construct, renovate and provide, the most valuable experience of all is the interaction and the relationship between students and the crèche children. Each day is punctuated by activities that develop academic, social and life skills, as the children move from breakfast to yoga lessons, on to story time and writing, songs and dance, playtime, mealtimes, wash time, and even naptime. Our India Project students experience real life in the crèche as they accompany the little ones through their day, learning with them and from them. That bond is one they will cherish long after their time in India.