BATTLE CREEK— Children frolic, color and play throughout the various learning rooms inside of Lens Learning Center, bringing joy to business owner Nita Hinton throughout her daily workweek.
“It’s something I’ve been planning for many years and knew that my community needed. We have so many working parents in the community who needed access to affordable, and safe child care. That’s why I chose to create Lens Learning Center,” She said.
Lens Learning Center has been a business operating within the Battle Creek Area since 2019, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hinton, is no stranger to the life of an entrepreneur, with many job titles under her belt and managing many other business ventures including her clothing line “Selean Karien,”, named after her late mother, and her mentorship and financial literacy service, “The Chaos Coordinator.”. Lens Learning Center would only be another dream business to add to her list, a business that she said is near and dear to her heart.
With over a year of preparation and planning for the center, doors to the child care facility would open in 2019 just before the beginning stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. With the pandemic forcing many non-essential businesses to close or reduce their hours, it left businesses across the country with challenging circumstances. For Lens Learning Center, they were fortunate to be deemed an essential business throughout the pandemic leaving room for Hinton to continue growing her business.
Hinton began the center’s first few months only accepting younger age groups to not overwhelm staff, and parents who were of concern for their children’s health and safety.
“I had a lot of parents express their concerns for keeping the center clean and safe. One thing I ensured was that we constantly disinfected high touch point areas such as toys, and tables for the kids, and every employee had COVID-19 screenings and wore masks,” Hinton said.
Hinton said that the center was cleaned frequently and students, staff, and parents underwent COVID-19 screenings and protocols that ensured the safety of everyone involved. She said her protocol and the grace of small business grants through the state of Michigan helped keep Lens Learning Center afloat throughout the pandemic. The grants that the center received went to upgrading the facility, adding more activities for the students, and adding staffing to help increase the centers operating hours.
Hinton said she has many plans for the future of the center, but overall hopes to continue to expand and help local families in her immediate community. She said she does hope to open more centers in neighboring cities as the years go on for the center; in the meantime, she appreciates said that she appreciates the support of her local community members.
“I’m so proud I’m one of the few African American women who provides such an essential service for the community,”