Kids learning to play for life

Ararat 800 Primary School students Bly and Tahnee show Michael Spalding from Ararat Community Enterprise and assistant principal Adrian Pilgrim some items from the Play for Life Pod.  
 Picture: PETER PICKERING

Ararat 800 Primary School students Bly and Tahnee show Michael Spalding from Ararat Community Enterprise and assistant principal Adrian Pilgrim some items from the Play for Life Pod. Picture: PETER PICKERING

ARARAT - Ararat Community Enterprise is assisting students from Ararat Primary School 800 to 'play for life'.

The community organisation has donated $10,000 funding to the school's Play for Life Pod, an initiative which is changing the state of play in school communities.

The Play for Life Pod is a modified shipping container or 'pod' full of high quality 'loose parts' play materials. These are clean manufacturing offcuts, otherwise destined for landfill, only recycled for use in the Pod and can be anything from old car tyres, cardboard tubing, milk crates, steering wheels, used keyboards, telephones, fabric and dressups - the list is endless. The play involves doing, exploring, discovering, failing and succeeding - all which are important in the development of the child. It's the short journey to imaginary space shuttles, caves, castles, fairylands and robots.

The Pod is delivered into primary schools to stimulate and enhance 'self directed' play opportunities for kids, increase their physical activity and support their behaviour and learning in school. This resource is accompanied by a trained 'Play for Life' playworker who works with the school community and parents to ensure that the opportunities for rich and productive play are optimised at school and also at home.

Ararat 800 recognises play as being one of the most important building blocks for building positive relationships and skills when students go on to later life and as members of our community.

The Pod is also helping to forge links in the community, with kindergarten students given the opportunity to come and use the Pod during school hours.

The school is one of only a handful of schools in the state to be successful in an application to be part of this pilot program with over 100 schools still on the waiting list.

Over the course of the first year Ararat 800 will be inviting other schools and organisations to see the Pod in progress and to provide information about its uses and progress in the intended outcomes.

Teacher Tammie Meehan said the students are already utilising the Pod in creative ways.

"I am excited each and every time I head out to the playground to see what new creations are popping up thanks to the Pod," she said.

"I see a lot of pretend play, houses, rocket ships, swings, forts. Most importantly I see children making decisions, sharing, creating and team-building.

" It is wonderful and we can't thank Ararat Community Enterprise enough for the role that had to play in helping us to install the Pod in our school. Our students are very fortunate."

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