Posted by Olivia Peressin
on 9 October 2019
The St Michael's College Primary Campus Nature Playground was officially opened on Wednesday 28 August. It was a pleasure to have Br David Hawke with us to celebrate the occasion and we were privileged to have Mr Alan Sumner MBE perform the Welcome to Country, Smoking Ceremony and traditional music leading into the Liturgy and official opening led by our students. Many were thanked during the addresses, including Mrs Louise Kometer, Director Teaching & Learning, who was described by our 2018 Youth Environmental Leaders (YELs) as 'our champion' due to her drive and leadership on the project.
Mr Damian Basso (YEL Mentor and architect in residence), described the Nature Playground as a great example of what can be achieved by student voice and expressed to the students that "this is your space, the space you've helped create". The student voice was heard through a series of workshops with our Youth Environmental Leaders (YELs), Mr Simon Hutchinson, Director of Climbing Tree (design & build company of the playground), Mrs Kometer and other key educators to develop and create a concept plan. These workshops were extremely engaging, productive and innovative and the YELs rose to the occasion and undertook significant work in presenting their ideas to classes and determining what all our students wanted in the Nature Playground. The key question to gain the most insight was not 'What do you want in there?', but rather 'What do you want to be able to do there?', generating responses such as climb, balance, slide, hide, spin, roll, tumble, push, pull, think, plan, make, imagine, build, run, relax, discover, role play, jump, fly and create, just to name a few.
In addition to the Nature Playground meeting the needs of student, Mr Basso said:
"We also hope that it will help foster social awareness and a concern for the environment. Our world needs its young people to lead the way in tackling the problems we face regarding this. We need you all to be green ambassadors that take action and help improve the way we are looking after God's gift to us, the natural environment. We hope you enjoy using our new play area and that you respect it. Judging from what we've seen so far, I'm certain you will."