This is such a great story of the community leading the way to increase play after witnessing the power of this channel to support their children to be happier, grow healthy and strong, increase community pride and build strong positive perceptions of their community. This project has tuned ont a game of FOLLOW THE LEADER, becoming a strong source of inspiration for others.
This playful journey began when Berrinba East State School took the lead and partnered with Logan City Libraries First 5 Forever program, Australian Institute of Play, Logan Together and Curious Me to deliver Logan’s first 10 Week Play Program.
The idea was conceived by Berrinba East State School Principal, Steve Kanowski, Early Year Coach, Kerry Dearness and First 5 Forever Early Years Library Services Coordinator, Marnie Julin. This creative team was inspired by play, after witnessing the positive influence this joyful channel was having on the school, the teachers, the community and of course, most importantly, the children. School became more happier place to be. Incidents were decreasing, attendance was rising and along with it, the students academic results. The hope was to increase this playful-impact by offering afterschool play sessions linked with library services, to increase love of play, as well as raise awareness of play being the foundational way children learn language, and grow a love of reading and books.
The concept was; to staff Berrinba East State School's amazing nature play/loose parts play space with Playworkers for weekly two hour play sessions after school, for 10 weeks, and open it up to the community, as well as hand out thousands of books to children and parents to take home.
Local business owners from Curious Me, who specialized in child-led free play in nature, were commissioned to be the Playworkers and help promote the program to the community.
Every Saturday Berrinba East State Schools incredible play space was able to open to local community. For 10 weeks School Staff, Volunteers and Curious Me Playworkers worked together supporting grown-ups to support their children to participate in active and social play, while First 5 Forever Team handed out books to children and informed parents of the wonderful services the Logan City Libraries offer.
So many fantastic positive outcomes came from this 10 week play project, including:
- The community was leading the way
- Hundreds of children came to play with their grown-ups
- Many families came multiple times over the 10 weeks.
- Local government was beginning to invest and support the project
- Other community services were getting involved
- There was financial investment in local playworker commercial business, who was being supported and celebrated.
- The local Berrinba area was celebrated for its outstanding play-offering to their students and community.
- The value of play was growing for the community was growing
In the background we collected the participation rates, did survey's and interviews to track the impact and collect the stories of those who attended. This information was independently analyzed by University of Queensland who found the program effective in positively contributing to children's physical, social and language development. In total, 724 children brought 630 grown-ups to play.
THIS BECAME A HUGE SOURCE OF INSPIRATION. This place-based, community-led, locally funded model of child-development support was working. Children were more active, more social and talking more. Parents value for play was being reinforced, and thousands of books went home with children to continue growing the love of reading.
BEST YET. This program went on to be replicated 3 times.
1. At the Family Place in Woodridge
2. At Eagleby South State Schools loose parts paradise
3. A second time at Berrinba East State School.
The community interest and participation rates were sustained, demonstrating the community need.
40 WEEKS OF PLAY ACROSS LOGAN
Over the 40 weeks of play in Logan I witnessed so many magical moments of children playing, being creative, climbing, crawling, swinging, jumping, learning and mastering skills, playing with parents, bonding, smiles, laughs, adventure, fun, and friends. Such a wonderful freedom glistening in the eyes of the children who came to play. Such pride in the eyes of the parents who brought them to along to bestow this experience on their little ones.
I also witnessed the pride growing in community services that were leading these projects, strengthen their resolve, that play is essential and vital for children, and worthy of investment of time, space and resources.
Curious Me staff were amazing at providing the space for play and setting the pace. The community services outstanding in funding these programs and attending in support.
SOME FEEDBACK FROM THE COMMUNITY
“For a weekend we didn’t used to really do much at all… so that compared to 2 hours of play, play, play, there is a big difference.” - Chelsea (Parent)
"Here they get to use their body outside, they get to build muscle, that’s something I find a lot of kids lack… They get to be away from technology which is a big thing that’s stopping this sort of play.” - Danika (Parent)
“We are recent migrants so this is a great event for my children to find their way to be a part of the local community.” - Hoi Ting Sun (Parent)
"She's building more confidence being around other kids and speaking up, getting in, and having a go, because she can be a bit shy sometimes." Tony (Parent)
WHERE, WHEN & WHO CAME TO PLAY
1. Curious Communities @ Berrinba East State School - 11 September to 13 November 2021.
Participation 724 children and 630 grown-ups
2. Curious Communities @ The Family Place, Woodridge - 28 March to 28 May 2022.
Participation 684 children and 592 grown-ups
3. Curious Communities @ Eagleby South State School - 4 April to 26 June 2022
Participation 429 children and 323 grown-ups
4. Curious Communities @ Berrinba East State School - 25 May to 20 July 2022 Participation 679 children & 315 grown-ups
So much to celebrate in this community lead play initiative. So much for the community to be proud of, thousands of children playing, parents supporting each other, talking, connecting, building a shared understanding of how vital play is for their children.
More 10 weeks of play programs are being planned for Logan
YAY FOR PLAY...
Australian Institute of Play