Wing Kei grows further with Montessori School
Project another step toward vision of creating an intergenerational village
The story of Wing Kei resulting from a conversation between the late Donald Jung and Vincent Leung in 1993 about the need to build a nursing home for Chinese seniors continues to be a miracle of sorts.
The first Wing Kei Care Centre was opened on the site of a former Petro-canada station on Centre Street North in 2005, the first phase of Wing Kei Greenview, an assisted living centre on 35th Avenue N.E., welcomed guests in the fall of 2014 and the adjoining long-term care facility opened in 2018.
Under the leadership of CEO Kathy Tam, the not-for-profit society has 450 full and parttime staff and many caring volunteers who ensure the residents and their families are nurtured and fulfilled in a culture of love and service.
Currently, Wing Kei serves a total of 320 residents in its three homes, but the need to meet physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs of seniors is still great as the aging demographic continues to rise.
In 2017, Wing Kei acquired the 1.2-hectare west campus of Centre Street Church at 41st Avenue N.E., allowing it to plan for further expansion with two new care facilities and a market-rate seniors condominium building.
The vision is to create an integrated community for seniors, families and children. Next month, children will be welcomed to the Wing Kei Montessori School, opening on the ground level of the existing building that is just a 10-minute drive into the core.
Leung, who continues as chair of the board, and Walter Yu, director of finance and hospitality who has also served as project manager for the development, took me on a tour of the spacious, 11,000-square-foot school on one secure level that can accommodate up to 144 children aged 19 months to three years and three to six years.
Parents will bring children through the rear entrance where there’s lots of parking into a hallway before camera identification allows entry into a large open area where children have their own open, wooden locker space.
The former church classrooms are perfect for Wing Kei’s use, meaning, apart from a new floor, little was needed in renovating the space into a daycare.
The biggest changes were in adding baby-changing tables and sinks for the infant rooms and converting the washrooms into COVID-19 wary hands-free washing stations. An outdoor fenced-in, secure play area has also been added that is approved for 144 children but will be limited for use on a rotation system. Snacks and meals are provided by its commercial kitchen and all food is approved by a dietitian.
The school is using the unique Montessori philosophy and classrooms are already equipped with new, colourful and engaging materials that allow students to learn at their own pace. May Leung, who has 11 years of experience with the Montessori system, is the school’s principal and her 10 teachers are all Montessori certified. That number offers a high teacher-to-student ratio.
The building has also become the new home for Wing Kei’s management and administration staff, which has resulted in more space available in its seniors centres for residents and care staff.
Wing Kei is well on its way to developing an intergenerational Wing Kei Village along Centre Street North, with the opening of its Montessori school for children of all ethnic backgrounds, to embrace the individuality of each child, indulging their curiosity to be self-directed learners, flexible thinkers and creative problem solvers.
Travel restrictions have meant many people have decided to vacation in Canada. There’s certainly lots to see and a new book by Calgary photographer Mark Vitaris should inspire others to follow his journey that straddles the 49th parallel from the eastern slopes of the Rockies to the grasslands of Saskatchewan to western North Dakota.
Borderlands captures breathtaking scenery in dramatic black-and-white images Vitaris assembled over five years of wandering across sparse, historical and emotional lands.
I thought for sure the space vacated by Julio’s Barrio Mexican Restaurant at the corner of 10th Street N.W. and Memorial Drive would have been snapped up by now. The location is great — high pedestrian traffic, good parking and close to downtown — but I guess it needs a well-established and experienced restaurateur to make the best use of its 8,200 square feet of space,