SUCCESSFUL TEAM: Helen Kennedy, Kara Hickson and Jan Kleindienst are the staff of Play and Yarn Playgroup.
SUCCESSFUL TEAM: Helen Kennedy, Kara Hickson and Jan Kleindienst are the staff of Play and Yarn Playgroup.

People with games and stories to tell

EVERY Tuesday morning during school terms, a group of 16 Aboriginal parents and children gather together at Ngerrie Local Aboriginal Land Council premises.

It's a fun time for the children to play and for their mums and dads to yarn.

Funded by Playgroup Australia and administerd by Gummyaney Preschool, the playgroup has been running for more than two years.

Jan Kleindienst, the coordinator of the program, said that one of the main aims of Play and Yarn is to provide information to the parents to assist them in their parenting duties.

To achieve this aim the playgroup has regularly had guest speakers including a dietician, speech therapists, Community Health ear and eye program workers, police focusing on domestic violence, mental health workers and a music therapist amongst others.

Jan also said that the program links children and parents back to culture with most of the guest speakers being Aboriginal.

Holding the playgroup at Ngerrie Land Council also ensures a cultural experience as lots of family and community members drop by to say g'day and to generally spend time with the children and their parents.

This community interest has inspired the playgroup to create an offshoot program - a social group for Aboriginal people over 45.

The group meets weekly and undertakes various activities such as gardening and signage.

There is sure to be many opportunities where the social group can interact and support the playgroup program.

Another program the playgroup has commenced is water confidence, and pre-swimming classes through the South Grafton Pool and Gym Complex.

The program started last term and proved so successful that there are plans to run it again next term.

"The kids loved it- it was good bonding experience and an effective way of educating parents how to keep kids safe around water,” said Helen Kennedy, Aboriginal Elder and Community Liaison worker with the playgroup.

Another program the playgroup held at the gym was a fitness program for mums and nans held last year.

While the adults did their thing, staff looked after the children.

The playgroup is always seeking innovative ways of engaging parents and to provide a stimulating and fun learning environment for their children.

Next term they hope to hold sand play therapy sessions with a local therapist, dance classes with Caitlin Leek from Studio One and indigenous weaving classes taught by local community members.

The playgroup has proven to be so successful that CRANES have approached the playgroup to partner with them with their young mum's and bub's program.

Jan, Helen and Kara are really achieving some amazing outcomes for our indigenous young parents and children.

Giinagay Jinggiwahla ("hello” in our first nation languages) is a weekly column covering the Indigenous communities of the Clarence Valley exploring a variety of topics, opinions and events across our first nation areas Bundjalung, Yaegl and Gumbaynggirr.

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