SPOTLIGHT - NIC Students Surprise Comox Valley Kids with New Playhouse

“I enjoy helping people with their projects,” says NIC fine arts graduate Sylwia Gustyn. “I was happy to do it.”

NIC carpentry and fine arts students surprised children at the Comox Valley Child Development Association (CVCDA) with a new playhouse, just in time for Christmas.

“Our older children now have a play structure perfectly suited to their size,” explains CVCDA Executive Director Joanne Shroeder. “And our play yard is open to the public on evenings and weekends, so it’s actually a gift to the whole community.”

The playhouse construction combines the skills of three NIC Carpentry Apprenticeship levels to produce a complete project: Level 1 students framed the structure, Level 3 students installed the windows, doors and trim, while Level 4 students practiced roofing and finishing. 

“Each year, we choose projects that support student learning in interesting and engaging ways that can also be used in the community,” explains Carpentry Instructor Erik Hardin.

Tommy Hamel began working on the playhouse in NIC’s Level 1 apprenticeship technical training in January, 2013.

“This is how I started learning basic framing techniques, including hand framing the roof, something I now use on a daily basis at work,” he says.

Today, Hamel is completing Level 4 apprenticeship hours at Darren Cottingham Dreamtime Construction in anticipation of earning his (Interprovincial) Red Seal in the new year.

NIC fine arts graduate Sylwia Gustyn volunteered to give the playhouse its creative and whimsical design, with paint and supplies generously donated by Canadian Tire.

“I enjoy helping people with their projects,” says Gustyn. “I was happy to do it.”

The playhouse arrived December 3 compliments of Slegg Building Materials in Comox. 

The CVCDA, located at 237 3rd Street in Courtenay, supports close to 800 local children and youth with specialized services each year.

To learn more about collaborative projects and community giving through NIC, contact the NIC Foundation at 250-334-5074 or visit

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