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There are four of them in Portland, all Sellwood-owned; learn more about 'Wow & Flutterville'

RITA A. LEONARD - Sellwood Wow & Flutterville owner Deanna Cohen, at center, stands between teacher assistant Raghad Farhood (left), and teacher Pollyanna Beckford.  Since last spring, Sellwood has been home to a Waldorf-inspired childcare center called "Wow & Flutterville Global Play Gardens", at 8722 S.E. 17th Avenue. Open from 7a.m. till 6 p.m. for children ages 6 weeks to Kindergarten age, the center has a very small teacher-to-child ratio. Its logo features bright mushrooms with wings – reflecting nature studies, and the constant movement of children. And they tell THE BEE they now offer "Parents' Night Out" programs for children up to age 10.

Created by Sellwood resident Deanna Cohen, this is Portland's fourth Wow & Flutterville Playgarden Center. Each one offers open-ended nature play, multicultural organic foods, weekly French and music classes, and an "anti-bias curriculum". The Centers are all situated near parks, allowing children to explore the outdoors every day.

"The program also has a mission to provide meaningful work and childcare teacher training for refugee and immigrant women," explains Cohen, "to celebrate diversity and promote a culture of inclusion. When I began to create childcare centers, I wanted to staff them with multicultural immigrant and refugee women who were looking for career paths working with children.

"I approached the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), asking that they recommend some women to me for training. I now have a partnership with IRCO, and we also do fundraising to support IRCO's work. Half of our assistants here are in teacher-training programs, and love working with the children. Some seek to be teachers, and others to be assistants."

The Sellwood location's Director, Emily Haworth, advises parents interested in the "Parents Night Out" program to check online for events and activities at – www.wowandfluttervilleplaygardens.com. "Our curriculum is based on a system of empathy and kindness, addressing the needs of children to be immersed in a joyous world of play and wonder," she smiles. "We also offer snacks and crafts. Registration paperwork is required prior to acceptance, so check with us first – at 971/302-6139."

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