Little Owl Academy in Kelowna has been recognized by the provincial government.
The daycare is one of this year’s Child Care Award of Excellence recipients, winning the 2018 Innovation Award.
It uses several innovative programs that provide the centre’s children access to unique learning opportunities.
That includes working with the Pacific Assistance Dog Society (PADS) and its puppy Sandy III, who is training to become a support dog.
Having Sandy in the classroom not only teaches the kids about the importance of service animals, but how to care for them and train them.
It works well for the puppy as well, as it learns patience, how to deal with loud noises and handle high-energy environments.
"By bringing an assistance dog like Sandy into the classroom, the children not only learn about inclusion of people of all abilities, but they also become little trainers," said Katrine Conroy, minister of children and family development.
"They are learning how to care for Sandy, and according to one of the nominators, the kids were so invested in the process that they even held a bake sale to raise money for PADS."
Early childhood educators at Little Owl Academy also introduced FreshGrade, a program used by the Okanagan School District, which helps track young learners progress to share with parents at home.
Staff are also certified in BrainGym, Rainbow Kids Yoga, American Sign Language and more, giving the kids the best possible developmental experience.