Staff Highlight: Stella Ehi Egege

In this exclusive interview, we had the pleasure of sitting down with Stella, a dedicated staff member at the Sonshine Children’s Centre in Calgary. Stella is incredibly passionate about her work and shares her insights into the valuable contributions the Children’s Centre makes in the lives of children and families. 

Stella’s enthusiasm for her role shines through as she highlights her favorite aspects of working at the Sonshine Children’s Centre and emphasizes the privilege of positively influencing each child’s early development and experiences, providing them with hope and positivity. Stella cherishes the sense of belonging that the Children’s Centre creates, where the staff and families form a close-knit family, united by a shared purpose. 

Q: What are your three favourite things about working in the Sonshine Children’s Centre? 

“As an Early Years Professional- I love providing positivity, healing, and hope to all the children I encounter and having the privilege to positively influence each child’s early development and their experiences. It’s very rewarding to be part of a family that is not biological. In 2012, I obtained the EYPS/QTS & PG.Ed (UK, London) which helps me confidently lead, support & provide high-quality standards of programming which I enjoy engaging in.”

Q: What do you believe is the most important aspect of what you do at Sonshine? 

“The high-quality programming we provide to all children, irrespective of what they have experienced or who they are. We accept all children from various backgrounds and most children who have been “rejected” from all other childcare programs due to challenging behaviors and under-skilled educators who are unable to understand child’s needs and utilize positive guidance. We accept and value each child and work tirelessly to provide hope and a positive future for every child that walks through the Sonshine Children’s Centre doors. That’s the reason children are celebrated when they exit the program. We want them to see their growth and their resilience and see them take those strengths out into the world.” 

Q: What goals has the Children’s Centre achieved so far this year? 

“The Sonshine Children’s Centre was licensed for an after-school care program for ages grade 1- 4. The out-of-school care program is not in operation yet although we have been licensed to operate. We are also implementing the ATTACH program to families by teaching parents reflective functioning skills. This is a new parenting program that can help promote a child’s secure attachment to their parent. This new parenting program also helps parents better understand their own feelings and behavior and those of their child. The program is currently at full capacity since the pandemic.”

Q: What do you enjoy most about working with your team at the Children’s Centre? 

“Tracking resilience. Each child and family is unique. We work as a team to come up with a unique plan for each family, communicating the challenges and tracking the progress, celebrating the successes, and listening to the feedback from families when a child exits the program reminds us of the mission, vision, and values of Sonshine.” 

Q: What do you enjoy most about working with children?  

“Experiencing the world through their lens. Co-learning and co-exploring the world with each child before they reach school-attending age.” 

Q: Are you proud to work at Sonshine?  

“I am. My work is very rewarding. It is very challenging however I always look at the positive outcomes.” 

Q: What excites you most about the Children’s Centre programming? 

“We are unique and the first of our kind. It isn’t about the wages but the smiles, and laughter we share with each child and their families every day, as well as the tears, struggles, and challenges we share together daily. We are family-centered, and we believe in relationship-based programs.”  

Q: Why is it important that Sonshine uses trauma-informed practices? 

“We are the first licensed trauma-informed children’s programming in Calgary. While other childcare programs are primarily focused on the educational aspect of a child from intake, we recognize and understand the impact of early childhood trauma and how it impacts the brain (physically & mentally). We implement the use of trauma-informed lenses from intake by first providing a safe environment for the child & their family, ensuring there is always consistency and predictability within the program. We build trusting relationships, show empathy, and role model healthy ways children can express emotions.”  

Q: Do you think that Sonshine offers more than the majority of Children’s Centre in Calgary? 

“We offer all children including trauma survivors the opportunity to rebuild connection, trust, competence, self-control, self-awareness, and resilience that may have been fractured by trauma and abuse. Children also develop coping, interpersonal and intellectual life skills. The program implements an enhanced adult-to-child ratio more than the required childcare licensing regulation in order to implement individualized, small-group, and one-on-one childcare interventions as needed. Due to the enhanced adult-child ratio, no child’s needs are missed, overlooked, or unmet.” 

Q: What are your hopes for the children’s Centre in the future?  

“To expand the service delivery to more age groups (so service delivery is not terminated when a child goes to kindergarten). I also hope to see more children equipped with basic life skills required for their future, more healthy family dynamics without violence or abuse and a world where children always have a voice of their own.” 

The Sonshine Children’s Centre is not just a place of education; it is a loving and inclusive community that values relationships and believes in the power of family-centered programming. 

It’s clear that Stella’s dedication and the values she embodies are instrumental in creating a positive and nurturing environment at the Sonshine Children’s Centre. Through their commitment to trauma-informed practices, high-quality programming, and personalized care, the centre is making a lasting impact on the lives of children, families, and the community as a whole.