Project sunshine on the rise

Project Sunshine is about helping the children develop a deeper sense of belonging as we explore the interdependence between land, people, animals and plants.

Durrah Cook, Educational Leader at WillowBee Early Learning Centre 1, explains how winning an environment grant has impacted their centre.

Winning the IEU grant for our Project Sunshine was such a privilege. Our centre is perched on top of an industrial/ commercial building and we desperately wanted to inject some sustainable movement in our centre. We have some sustainable initiatives in our centre, such as a worm farm and collecting rain water. However, this was not enough, and we could do more for the environment.

We decided to take advantage of the abundance of sunshine in our yard to dry our laundry. Being in a long day care centre, our washing machine is always going – there are sheets, face washers and tea towels to wash and dry every day. We had always relied on the dryer, and what a shame that was, especially with lots of space in the yard for hanging our washing. We bought a clothes horse and the children assisted in hanging the washers and tea towels. The children showed a sense of pride as they assisted their educators in drying their little washers.

Project Sunshine is also about helping the children develop a deeper sense of belonging as we explore the interdependence between land, people, animals and plants. We invited Uncle Jimmy from the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council and learned about the Aboriginal culture of this land as well as native plants and their significance. Uncle Jimmy joined us on an excursion to Warrane Reserve in Willoughby NSW, with families also invited to come along. He pointed out all the native plants as well as suggesting which could be planted in our yards and used as bush medicine.

Families were eager to assist us in our sustainability journey and parents gave positive feedback as well as sharing their experiences and expertise on gardening and plant identification, management and design.

Project Sunshine had a few setbacks. Initially we planned to add a vertical garden but there was no adequate water source. It was instead decided that free standing planter boxes with herbs and vegetables would be more suitable. We wanted to have a fixed clothes line and this required us to wait for it to be custom built and installed. We did not want this to delay us any more than necessary so as well as using a clothes horse in the interim, we took the opportunity to brainstorm new ways Project Sunshine could run more smoothly in the future. During this time a parent with landscaping experience agreed to assist us throughout 2019.

Since hearing about the grant and through the subsequent planning process we have learned a great deal about being sustainable. Project Sunshine is just a tip of the iceberg. Thank you to the IEUA and Teachers Mutual Bank for funding our project. The future looks bright with Project Sunshine and our dedicated families, staff and children.