Bring­ing the bush into preschool

Gum­myaney fo­cuses on bush study

The Daily Examiner - - MID-WEEK - JANELLE BROWN

TUCKED away in Pound Street, not far from where con­struc­tion for the new bridge is in progress, sits Gum­myaney Abo­rig­i­nal Preschool. In its cur­rent lo­ca­tion, this preschool has qui­etly been pro­vid­ing a cul­tur­ally ap­pro­pri­ate and qual­ity preschool ed­u­ca­tion for our young indige­nous chil­dren for the past 13 years. Prior to 2005, the preschool was sit­u­ated at the Grafton cam­pus of TAFE.

Re­cently the preschool’s staff be­gan to re­alise that many of their 28 en­rolled chil­dren have had few op­por­tu­ni­ties to ex­pe­ri­ence the Aus­tralian bush. There­fore, the preschool de­cided rather than just take the chil­dren on the oc­ca­sional ex­cur­sion to the bush, that they could bring “the bush” to the preschool. By trans­form­ing a small sec­tion on the preschool’s play­ground into a mini rain­for­est/bush­land area, the chil­dren could then de­velop a stronger con­nec­tion to their cul­ture and ex­pe­ri­ence the “bush” on a daily ba­sis.

An­drea Laurie, the Preschool’s Com­mu­nity Li­ai­son worker was given the task of or­gan­is­ing the cre­ation of this new out­door learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment. She en­listed the sup­port of ETC and their youth pro­gram par­tic­i­pants, who de­signed the new area with the in­put of the Gum­myaney stu­dents.

Work has since com­menced on the area, with many or­gan­i­sa­tions ei­ther sup­port­ing or com­mit­ing sup­port to the project. They in­clude Ful­ton Hogan, Clarence Val­ley Abo­rig­i­nal Men’s Group, Ab­care and Clarence Val­ley Abo­rig­i­nal Heal­ing Cen­tre.

Some plants, three large sand­stone boul­ders and a “step­ping stones” path has al­ready been placed within the new gar­den. How­ever, the project is far from com­plete, and the preschool is now seek­ing fur­ther sup­port in the form of do­na­tions of na­tive plants, ma­te­ri­als and vol­un­teer labour to en­able the com­ple­tion of the project.

An­drea said the gar­den was al­ready pop­u­lar with the chil­dren and that, upon com­ple­tion, it would be a low main­te­nance area where chil­dren could have fun and learn about na­tive plants, in­clud­ing bush tucker and bush medicine.

Please con­tact An­drea Laurie on 6642 2048 to make a con­tri­bu­tion to this project. Giinagay Jinggiwahla (‘hello’ in our first na­tion’s lan­guages) is a weekly col­umn pro­vided by the indige­nous com­mu­ni­ties of the Clarence Val­ley cov­er­ing a va­ri­ety of top­ics, opin­ions and events across our first na­tions ar­eas, Bund­jalung, Yaegl and Gum­bayn­g­girr.

Photo: CON­TRIB­UTED

An­drea Laurie and chil­dren from Gum­myaney preschool planting grass trees do­nated by the Clarence Val­ley Abo­rig­i­nal heal­ing Cen­tre.

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