It didn’t come cheap but a sheltered outdoor learning area has transformed art classes at Salamander Child Care Centre.
The children use items gathered from bush walks to use in the art sessions under the purpose built shelter, teaching them about sustainability.
As the recipients of an $8000 state government grant the centre was able to have the structure built in January though the final touches have only been completed this month.
“Being a not-for-profit it would have taken years of fundraising to build it,” centre director Mandy Moore said.
“If we had set it up inside it would have taken up a lot of space. Having it outside also allows us to have peer scaffolding, where the old children help the younger ones.”
Mother of two Sue Callaghan is on the centre’s management committee and is this year vice president.
“It’s a fantastic childcare centre, always going above and beyond,” she said.
“This is a great resource for the children and it gets a terrific response from the children. The children have access to plants, shells, and the like, it really encourages them to be creative and get involved with their art.”
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Port Stephens MP and opposition spokeswoman for Early Childhood Education Kate Washington opened the new addition on Thursday.
The children showed their appreciation with a bouquet of native flowers and a ‘thank you’ cake.
“As the shadow minister I love supporting early childhood education and I really appreciate what a difference infrastructure of this kind can make,” she said.
“A project like this has the capacity to change every day lives so it’s a real privilege of mine.”
The centre has five rooms and provides for up to 80 children.
Ms Moore has been at the centre for over 15 years and noted that the new shelter had made a big difference.
“We’re been steadily gathering the resources to finish it off and that’s only happened in the past two weeks,” she said.
“Some of the quieter children can become really animated and excited about the art in this space.”