A little under a year ago Jenny Seow, Area Manager of Warooga Childcare Riverton and Southern River in Western Australia, embarked on an education for sustainability journey across two services concurrently. I checked in with her Centre Manager Shannen Blundell and her sustainability officer Amber Giles recently and following is an outline of their journey.
What are some of your toughest challenges regarding embedding sustainability? Staff, families, children?
Educators are finding it a challenge to run a smooth sustainability program due to a change in children on a daily basis as well as a lack of input/contribution from families.
How are parents responding to the program? The parents seem excited to see the changes that are happening around the centre especially the new gardens.
How about the children? The children seem proud of their new outdoor space and enjoy helping the educators to take care of the gardens. The children are also independently able to pour water from the rain tank and incorporate it into their outdoor play.
And the staff? The educators are hands on helping the children learn about the gardens and what they can do to help take care of them.
What are you hoping to achieve or change by purchasing the BYC program? We hope to be able to implement more sustainable ideas and practices into the centre.
What other things would you like to see the BYC do/deliver to you and your service? By using the BYC program in the service we wish to have access to more educational resources for the children.
Are there anything you have learnt or taken from your using of the BYC program that you could apply at home or in your personal life? If so, what? Yes, I have become more aware of the little changes I can make to be more sustainable.
What advice/feedback would you give to ACECQA about the practicalities of implementing sustainability in the framework of their regulations? I would advise ACECQA to simplify the learning stages for the younger children to adapt and understand.
Would you recommend the BYC program to others? Why/why not?
Yes I would recommend the BYC program to others as I believe the educators have learnt a lot from the program and the resources have been very useful for teaching the children.
What are your next sustainability steps? What are you hoping to achieve in the next 4-6months? How are you going to get there?
The centre is looking at ways to incorporate natural elements into the outdoor areas. To achieve this we have placed an order for two natural wooden cubby houses which we are hoping to have delivered by early March. We are also hoping to harvest some vegetables from our garden and add them into our meal time dishes.
What advice would you give others embarking on a similar journey?
I would advise others embarking on a similar journey to allow time for children to adapt to changes, be consistent with practices and be hands on as well as use visual aids to teach the children.