End of year reflections
Talking with Bernadette Leedham, Centre Manager.
The children at Cribb Street Childcare were able to inspire adults through their Enviroweek participation and helped to bring about change.
In 2015, Cribb Street Childcare Centre changed their daily habits for a healthy planet and as a result found that their connectedness with the community expanded.
The Enviroweek action had a ripple effect on the community. Staff and families have adopted environmental practices at home including keeping chickens and growing vegetables.
The children have also learnt how to deepen their connection with nature by cultivating a still mind through yoga and meditation.
How is your environment program connecting/ impacting parents and your community?
Families helped out with Enviroweek by participating in a range of activities.
Parents and carers shared their gardening experiences with their children and all families were encouraged to use the centre’s excess herbs and produce.
“Families are talking about food growing and it is inspiring to see how many families are starting to grow pumpkins, potatoes, and sunflowers. They are even saving their toilet rolls for composting!” said Bernadette Leedham, Centre Manager.
The children at Cribb Street Childcare Centre developed a greater sense of achievement and a sense of being part of an involved community when they shared what they were growing.
Educators and children problem solved what to do if a plant dies and what they would do better next time.
Bernadette believes the vital components of a child’s education involves seeing first hand where their food comes from, what it takes to grow and then experimenting with the ways they can eat their own produce.
The children have been making tomato sauce for their homemade sausage rolls and lemon butter for a treat on their crackers!
Cribb Street Childcare Centre expanded their sustainable practices in 2015 by:
• Selling worm wee and compost to the greater community. This helps to fund future gardening projects
• Team members started more environmental practices at home, including growing vegetable patches and having chickens
• A Market Day was held to invite the community into the centre to showcase our past environmental efforts and to view future plans.
Want to expand sustainability at your service? Achieve Standard 3.3 of the NQS is an online professional development course that will help your service embed sustainability into its learning programs and operations.
How much have you saved for our environment?
Bernadette and the children also conducted a waste audit. They had three refuse and two recycle bins both 240L. They looked at what was going into each to make sure they were being used properly. They were not! Too much food!
Approximately 5kg per day or 1250kg per year was going into the bin. Educators, families and children devised strategies so no more food scraps were going into the refuse bins. Worm farms, conventional compost and a Clo’ey composter were started. Now the chickens eat the vegetable scraps and other food scraps are given to staff dogs.
“The Clo’ey Composter is one of our biggest land fill savers and produces around 10kg compost a week. That’s over 500kg waste per year of methane emissions that we are preventing from going into landfill. And at the same time we are renewing our soil and land for a greener and healthier environment. Could you imagine if you multiplied 5 kg of food scraps by the nine million Australian households, what affect this waste will have on our Earth and environment in the long term?” said Bernadette.
Professional Development, including using the Cool Australia resources, helped the educators realise there was also a large amount of recycled items that could have been reused.
Some of the other changes introduced are:
• New green waste bin for the excess shredded paper, plant matter, food, paper hand towels and tissues
• Crushed eggs shells used in the garden and for the chooks
• Soaked toilet rolls and paper towel used in the compost bin
• Shredded paper for the chickens house instead of straw
• Given shredded paper to their families to use as mulch in their gardens
• Reduced the number of food deliveries to reduce food miles
• Reduced their need to purchase compost and plant supplements and have shared the end products with the community.
Buy your organic meat and dairy in bulk. This reduces the long chain of chemicals used to produce it. For example: pesticides used on grain food and paddocks; and excess antibiotics used due to unhealthy animal practices.
HEALTHY MIND AND BODY
What is and how does your meditation /yoga /outdoor quiet time program impact children?
As part Cribb Street’s holistic program children are taught how to calm their minds. This includes learning how to slow things down with quiet spaces, controlling breathing, meditation and yoga.
“Our lives are very busy these days and children are constantly being told to hurry up when they don’t move at the same pace as an adult!”
Zen zones were created in the yards to give children the choice of some peaceful alone time. The three-five year-olds listened to meditation music or words every day before lunch. They enjoyed a weekly yoga session where they learnt about breathing, controlled movement and relaxation techniques. Meditation taught them how to self-soothe their emotions when feeling stressed, anxious or frustrated rather than directing it towards others.
Bernadette observed the benefits of the holistic program, with the group being calmer and more relaxed.
“The children love it and go home talking about the ‘yoghurt’ lesson they had that day!”
Cribb Street is physically set up to benefit the land and the children. There are two rows of hay bales to slow the water flow from the rain and the children use them for jumping and balancing.
“This is an inviting environment to run, explore and to have fun in and also teaches the children another way to connect with and respect the land and environment.”
What does Enviroweek help you achieve and what would your advice be to new participants to Enviroweek 2016?
“Caring for our earth and preparing the next generation to do better”.
“I would say to new participants to read what everyone else is showcasing, talk about it, brainstorm and share ideas. The more conversations you have, the more you can solve bigger problems in the long run,” suggested Bernadette.
The Enviroweek Awards were an opportunity for Cribb Street to highlight achievement to their parents. The families viewed Cribb Street’s profile and then were able to have conversations with their children about Enviroweek activities.
“Like most childcare centres, drop-off and pick-up times are generally rushed and we don’t have time to have deep conversations about all of the wonderful experiences we have put in place. Being in the Awards meant a lot of parents have started conversations about gardening and sustainability with educators and children.”
Through the Enviroweek activities, Cribb Street realised the best recommended resource is your children, parents and community. The team learnt that it is the connections that you make with someone that helps to get a project finished.
Everyone can do this
“Yes it isn’t easy to change as we are creatures of habit and change needs to be introduced slowly. It’s making communities aware of the long term effects if we don’t start making a change and choose to change we won’t have our land, families or community.”