Q&A: My Dagenham - Simona Staputiene, co-founder of Leaping Toads day nursery
PUBLISHED: 17:00 02 August 2019
Simona Staputiene, 37, is the co-founder of Leaping Toads day nursery and activity centre. She's an educator, and comes from a family of three generations of artists.
What's your connection with the borough?
When I came to the UK in 2008, my first home was in Arnold Road, Dagenham. From there (from my living room!) I started running educational activities for children. That idea flourished, and 19 years on it's become my profession and passion. Leaping Toads is now a nursery and activity centre for children, located in Rectory Road, Dagenham - just a few roads away from where I first started.
What's the best thing about working or living in the borough?
The can-do attitude that people have.
I'm impressed when meeting the many business owners in Barking and Dagenham. They come from a wide variety of backgrounds and cultures. They all make things happen in the community, and their activities have a positive impact on people's day-to-day lives.
What one thing would you change about the borough?
The visual look of some of the streets - some look rather depressing. We need to be inspired by our surroundings.
Use three words to describe the area.
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Quirky, clever, catching up.
Who is the most inspiring person you have ever met?
My grandfather, Alfonsas Ambraziunas, who was a sculptor and designed the largest Second World War monument in Eastern Europe.
He inspired me always to think big and to search for new and original ways of doing things.
Thanks to his inspiration, we dedicate a lot of time and effort at Leaping Toads to fire children's imaginations, promoting their creativity and helping them to develop their personalities.
What new law would you introduce if you were the prime minister?
All children are entitled to have free school meals, as it has been proven to benefit children and no child would feel different to any other.
If you were the editor of this paper, what issues in the borough would you focus on?
I don't like to dwell on issues - people already have enough of them.
Instead, let's do our best to help the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society, and at the same time, let's focus on ways to inspire our children through literature, the arts, history and the world.
Let's not constrain them to our own experiences in life, or own issues. Let's give them the possibility to do better than their previous generations.