An exciting program last term for our many young Kool Kids was Nature Play at Centennial Parklands! Every Tuesday we picked our Kool Kids up from school and went on our merry way to our favourite outdoor classroom for jam-packed afternoons filled with birds, animals, nature-based games, clay, building, and most importantly, friendships.

Upon arrival at Centennial Parklands, Sam, the amazing Coordinator of Education Services, greeted our Kool Kids with enthusiasm and excitement. Sam ran our outdoor programs with a keenness unlike any other, and she really tailored our sessions to suit the varying needs of our Kool Kids, which helped us see fantastic results in them. Importantly, Sam and her colleagues facilitated many activities at Centennial Park, such as fishing, kite-making, boat building and even the construction of Gunya’s (Gadigal word for shelter). The Kool Kids also thoroughly enjoyed the stories that Sam told about certain animals that live in Centennial Park, such as possums. It is without a doubt that the Kool Kids learnt plenty through their interactions with Sam and the various activities she ran.

The Nature Play program had double the Koolness in term 1, as we partnered up with Matt, Loren and the Kool Kids from the Inner City Kool Kids Club for the first time. This was particularly special as we watched the two Kool Kids groups intertwine and establish caring and playful friendships with one another right from the first week. It was amazing to see the growth and learning of each of the Kool Kids in our outdoor classroom, especially regarding their interactions with one another. It was a privilege to experience a great partnership with the Inner City Kool Kids and we cannot wait to do it all over again!

Ultimately, this program was established to help our Kool Kids venture from the indoors into the outdoors and forge a relationship with nature in a safe environment. This program helped our Kool Kids develop skills that only occur from spending time in nature, and the best part was that they did it with their friends. Our Kool Kids demonstrated nothing but respect and fondness when playing in the outdoor classroom at Centennial Parklands, and we could not be more proud of our Kool Kids for their achievements throughout the Nature Play program.

Importantly, considering the success of the Nature Play program in Term 1, 2017, MASSIVE thanks are in order for many parties. Firstly, THANK YOU so much to Centennial Parklands and especially Sam and her colleagues, this program would not have been as great as it was without your eagerness, knowledge of nature and awesome ability to teach your knowledge in a way that kids can be engaged in! THANK YOU to the Inner City Kool Kids for coming along each week and allowing both of our groups the opportunity to interact with one another in a Kool environment. THANK YOU to both Barnados Family Referral Service and the Australian Government Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet who have funded Nature Play, without your help our Kool Kids may not have learnt the skills that they learnt through being in our outdoor classroom, and they especially may not have developed such a special relationship with nature and all of its elements. THANK YOU to our AMAZING Kool Kids team, success in programs such as Nature Play occur only through amazing communication, respect and organisation demonstrated in all of the staff involved.

Most of all, a massive THANK YOU to our Kool Kids for being adventurous and courageous!

Until next time, Aboriginal Social work Placement Student Karlie & The Kool Kids Team!