“We all work together at playgroup young and old, kardiya and yapa (white people and Warlpiri people).” – Reanne, playgroup staff member
James was among the happy little ones from the Willowra community in Central Australia who started attending a World Vision-supported playgroup in 2022.
Supporting playgroups forms the core of our work to ensure First Nations pre-schoolers living in remote communities have access to community-led, culturally relevant early learning opportunities.
The playgroup had a rocky start this year as the community was dealing with its first COVID-19 outbreak. But as soon as it was safe, playgroup activities got going and attendance was strong, with 25 new children and caregivers taking part.
On his first day James was proud to wear his special playgroup t-shirt that was designed by playgroup staff member, Reanne, along with members of the Willowra Early Childhood Reference Group.
When children come to their first session, the staff take a photo of them wearing their t-shirt and add this to the playgroup’s “belonging tree”.
Fundamental to our early years learning approach is a view of children’s lives as being characterised by “belonging, being, becoming”.
The belonging tree and playgroup t-shirts remind the children, parents and staff that belonging (knowing where and who you belong to) is integral to human existence. Playgroup activities also contribute to this because they have Warlpiri culture and language at their heart.
Reanne said the t-shirt was designed to capture that sense of belonging. “In the design you can see little footprints coming from four corners, which represents the children coming to playgroup. In the middle you can see adults and children coming together to do learning and activities in both Warlpiri and English and developing meaningful relationships which deepens a sense of belonging,” Reanne explains.
Our Partner on this project is Warlpiri Education and Training Trust (WETT), who have provided the funding to make Willowra community's vision for their children come to life. World Vision Australia was invited to provide early learning services in the community.
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