Brainerd’s Fun ‘N’ Friends Celebrates 30 Years Of Programming
The Brainerd Public School District’s child care program, Fun ’N’ Friends, is celebrating 30 years of programming this year.
Fun ’N’ Friends was was established in 1989 in order to provide before-school and after-school child care to students in kindergarten through 4th grade. The program employs over 55 staff members and has over 700 students registered this year.
“We really want kids to feel valued, feel capable, have really good experiences that challenge them in all the right ways. So the things that we like to do, we kind of have four keywords that we use: caring, guiding, connecting, and educating,” said Brainerd School District child care coordinator Lisa Henry-Stawarski, who founded Fun ’N’ Friends 30 years ago.
Besides being a place for children to go when their parents are at work, Fun ’N’ Friends allows students to learn social, creative, and interpersonal skills. The program has grown significantly over the years from enrolling around 150 kids when the program first started to now over 700.
“It’s hands-on. It’s social and emotional. It’s real, it’s not something behind a screen. It’s putting that down and having a connection with youth,” added Kari Roberts, Fun ’N’ Friends programming and inclusion supervisor.
“I have kids, their kids are now coming because they’ve started their own family. To see them return and come, it’s been very, very rewarding,” said Fun ’N’ Friends family account supervisor Maureen Riles.
Fun ’N’ Friends offers all-day programming during the summer while students are out of school. People are able to register by stopping by the program office in the Washington Educational Services Building in Brainerd.