Children’s Enrichment Center to engage students during homecoming week, Halloween

GVL / Dylan McIntyre. Wednesday, October 18, 2107. Childeren Enrichment Center during recess.

GVL / Dylan McIntyre. Wednesday, October 18, 2107. Childeren Enrichment Center during recess.

Anne Marie Smit

The Children’s Enrichment Center (CEC), located on Grand Valley State University’s Allendale Campus, will be holding several events in the coming weeks to engage GVSU students with the children enrolled at the CEC.

The CEC calls itself the “home of the ‘Littlest Lakers’” and has been serving students, faculty and staff at GVSU, as well as the surrounding community, since 1970. 

The CEC contains three classrooms led by full-time teachers, enrolling children from 2 to 5 years old. The center gives families at GVSU the freedom to study or work during the daytime hours, with students receiving a discounted weekly rate.

Daphnea Sutherland, assistant director and preschool 2 lead teacher at the CEC, said the children at the center are called the Littlest Lakers because they are so involved with students and the university. 

“We have a lot of children who have a better understanding of what college is,” Sutherland said. “We even have a little boy whose mom works in the library, and he always says that he’s going to be a college engineer when he grows up.”

Sarah Lord, CEC director and preschool 1 program administrator and lead teacher, said the center is equally comprised of children of GVSU families and the surrounding community. 

“Right now, we are half and half between community and faculty, staff, and a few students,” Lord said. “There are some semesters and years when there are more needs from students, but it really depends on what the needs are and what we are able to provide for them.”

Many GVSU students are aware that the CEC exists but are unsure of how it operates and how they can get involved. The center is not just a daycare: The children enrolled in the CEC are taught in the classroom but are also given the opportunity to play, explore the GVSU campus and see for themselves what college looks like.

The center hopes to pique the curiosity of students and parents alike about the resources they offer. 

“It’s allowing students to realize that there are a lot of resources that they can have through the center,” Sutherland said. “They can volunteer. They can observe. We’ve had speech-language pathology students, movement science, a few other departments who have come in and used the children for lessons.”

For the “Dress for Success” event in the Kirkhof Center Wednesday, Oct. 25, the CEC will have a table reserved where children from the CEC will dress up and play Halloween games with GVSU students. Through this event, the center aims to spread awareness about the CEC and how it not only benefits student, faculty, and staff parents at GVSU, but how it benefits students in their education as well.

In addition to the Dress for Success event, children from the CEC will participate with GVSU students in other ways. For the week of Monday, Oct. 23, through Friday, Oct. 27, the center has organized a spirit week for the children to get excited about homecoming. During this week, the children will dress up in costumes and support GVSU with Laker apparel. The children will finish the festive week by attending the homecoming game with GVSU students Saturday, Oct. 28.

Finally, the events in October will be concluded with trick-or-treating on campus, which will take place Sunday, Oct. 29, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. and Tuesday, Oct. 31, beginning at 9 a.m.

For more information on the CEC and a complete list of the events scheduled for October, visit