News: New, state-of-the-art child development center opens
Story by Pfc. Ian McMahon
CAMP FOSTER, Japan - Staff members of the new Ashibina Child Development Center held a ribbon cutting ceremony and tour on Camp Foster Jan. 20.
The Ashibina Center is one of two CDCs on Camp Foster. CDCs offer full-day, part-day, and hourly care programs for children 6 weeks to 5 years old.
The existing CDC on Camp Foster was renamed the Chumugukuru Center, meaning “pure heart,” the new center’s namesake, Ashibina, means “gathering place to play.”
“The goal of the Ashibina Center is to provide quality early childhood programs centered around safe and nurturing environments that promote the physical, social, emotional and cognitive development of young children,” said Jeff El-Bdour, Child Development Services program coordinator for Marine Corps Community Services Children, Youth & Teen Programs.
These programs are staffed by trained care-giving professionals, said El-Bdour. The CDCs meet accreditation standards of the National Association for the Education of Young Children.
Additionally, the Ashibina Center created a total of 60 jobs for staff members, he added.
“The Ashibina Center was needed to meet the childcare demands of the MCB Camp Butler community,” said El-Bdour.
“In many ways, the existing CDC was an inspiration for the Ashibina Center,” said El-Bdour.
The ceremony started with remarks given by Steve Pauli, assistant chief of staff for Marine Corps Community Services; Cullen A. Ohashi, MCCS Youth & Teen Program chief; and Maj. Gen. Peter J. Talleri, commanding general of Marine Corps Installations Pacific and Marine Corps Base Camp Butler.
During the ceremony, Talleri was given the honor of cutting the ribbon with Molly Conley, the Ashibina CDC director, marking the completion of the building and starting the tour of the center. Talleri and company made their way though each room of the center.
The Ashibina Center is designed for the care of up to 104 children and consists of an 8,000 square-foot playground, eight classrooms, a kitchen and a state-of-the-art safety security system.
Justin Presti, staff architect and MCCS project manager, explained his excitement with the project.
“Since I am project manager and staff architect for the Ashibina center, I’ve had a large influence on the project,” said Presti. “It has been amazing to see this come together.”
The $4.7 million facility took approximately two years to build, according to El-Bdour.
Inside the center, the area has a warm and bright atmosphere. Skylights illuminate most of the building. Each of the eight classrooms are individually designed.
“Some of the greatest strengths of the Ashibina Center facility involve its color scheme, the presence of artwork from a local Okinawa artist, and the large, spacious rooms that accommodate care for various ages of children,” said El-Bdour.
Paintings by acclaimed Okinawan artist Kyoko Nakamoto line the hallways of the center. The paintings are Nakamoto's “Paradise Series,” which symbolizes equality and the discovery of paradise within.
Talleri thanked Nakamoto for her contribution to the CDC during the cake cutting.
The older Chumugukuru CDC will remain open.
“Children will not be moved between centers. Placement of children into the programs will be based on space availability,” said El-Bdour.
The Ashibina CDC is scheduled to begin services Jan. 30.