Sarah Browne plays with her nieces Priya

Sarah Browne plays with her nieces Priya

Heart of our City: Sarah Browne finds magic with children

Nothing makes Sarah Browne happier than being around children.

Nothing makes Sarah Browne happier than being around children.

“They make me laugh and see the world through their eyes, and that’s a really magical thing,” Sarah said.

The Rupertite has always been passionate about childcare, making it her life’s work to help children overcome developmental challenges.

Sarah was born in Prince Rupert and spent the first 16 years of her life in the community. She grew up in a tight-knit family, spending much of her time with her sister Jessica and their parents.

“I had a good childhood,” she remembered.

While many are pleasant, not all of Sarah’s memories from her upbringing are happy. Sarah was severely bullied in elementary school, so much so that she switched schools at one point because things had gotten so out of hand.

Sadly, the bullying continued into high school. Once again Sarah had to relocate, this time with her locker, to stop a group of girls from harassing her by way of rude notes and scratched insults on her locker.

“(Bullying) definitely shapes who you are for the rest of your life. I will always carry that with me and I’m a little more guarded whenever I meet new people,” she said.

But Sarah found a group of kindred spirits in “the outcasts” and theatre-enthusiasts.

“I definitely hung out in the drama room … I was very involved in drama,” she said.

“For me, drama was a way of protecting myself. A lot of people who are insecure don’t want to get on a stage, but I liked it because it wasn’t me. I could do things on stage that I wouldn’t do in everyday life,” Sarah explained.

“It became an armour I could wear and still interact with the world.”

Life would change drastically for Sarah when she was 16. After her father was laid off from the pulp mill, Sarah’s parents decided to move to Doha, Qatar in Southwest Asia, where her dad got a job.

“All I had known was Prince Rupert, so I was terrified and really angry to have to leave,” Sarah said.

Obviously the weather took some getting used to, but there were much more significant changes Sarah had to adapt to while living in the Muslim-country, such as her clothing.

While in Canada nobody would’ve batted an eye, Sarah remembers wearing bright orange shorts in downtown Doha and having an old man follow her down the street yelling at her for showing too much skin.

Although it took some time, Sarah grew to love life in Qatar and getting to learn about a new way of life.

“You learn a lot about the world when you’re a new person in a different country. It humbles you,” she said.

“Being immersed in the Muslim culture was really fascinating.”

After living in Qatar for two years, Sarah returned to Canada and started attending university in Calgary. Sarah did two years of general studies and then decided she would earn a certificate in early childhood development.

For Sarah, the choice to get into childcare was an easy one.

“From a very young age I just really enjoyed working with children,” she explained, adding she started babysitting as soon as she was old enough, and even helped with her church’s nursery group on Sundays.

Sarah wanted to touch the lives of young people while being a part of their learning progression, as those who worked with her as a kid had done.

“I think back to my preschool days, and I still remember my preschool teachers and the fun I had,” she recalled.

Despite being far away from the North Coast, Sarah took every opportunity to visit the region and her sister. About three years ago, after nine years away, Sarah decided to move back to Prince Rupert.

“I just found I was missing family. With my sister here and her having kids, it was time to come home,” she explained.

The decision to move home proved to be a smart one, with Sarah landing her dream job with the Prince Rupert Community Enrichment Society shortly after returning to the community.

This month marked Sarah’s two-year anniversary of employment as an infant development consultant with the society, working with children up to age 3 who are either at risk of, or have, a developmental delay.

“The early years are really important and to have parents allow you to be involved with their children at that age is an honour,” she said.

Sarah also provides support to the parents and guardians of children she works with, helping them make sense of everything.

“I can hold their hand through all of the craziness,” she said.

“A lot of times it’s just going into their homes and sitting down with them and sitting down and talking about what’s happening in their child’s life and what they’re struggling with. They need someone in their corner … It can be really scary. I’m there to make it a little less scary.”

When asked what the most important thing in life is, Sarah answered “family” without hesitation.

Sarah is currently living with Jessica and her fiancé, helping the couple take care of their three young children. Sarah and her sister are extremely close, spending most of their free time together as a family.

“We’re home-bodies. We like hanging out at home and spending times with the kids,” Sarah explained, adding she also has remained close to her parents who are living in Saskatchewan.

“It’s weird for me to go a week without talking to them.”

Sarah intends to remain in Prince Rupert for the foreseeable future, as it’s where her family and friends are, along with a job that she loves waking up in the morning to go to.