By Michael Doran
Two pre-schools in the Yarra Valley have been granted close to $300,000 as part of the state governments Inclusive Kindergartens Facilities Program.
Yarra Glen Pre School and Cire Children’s Centre Yarra Junction will use the grants to increase accessibility and inclusiveness for children and families.
Cire Executive Manager, Family and Childrens Services, Diletta Lanciana said the grant will make a big impact on what the centre can offer children of all abilities.
“Our centre is on a sloping block in a bushland setting so accessibility is important,” she said. “We developed our application with that in mind and are really excited about being successful.”
“We knew we were not experts in playground design so we did our research of what’s available in that field. There is a lot more recognition of engaging with special needs children and new ways of going about that.”
“With a grant close to $100,000 we can do a lot. We have some wonderful plans that include spaces like a tepee, buddy bench and a cubby house where kids have a space to feel safe and calm in times of stress.”
Cire Childrens Centre Director, Lysa Smart said “We are looking forward to have children of all abilities playing together.
“On our sloping block that has been difficult but with new paths and levels everyone will be able to access all parts of the playground on their own.”
“We have more than 100 children here and families love our bush kinder. Some express a concern about accessibility but this funding will take those concerns away.”
At Yarra Glen Pre School, Educational Leader, Belinda Hudson said they will use the $171,600 grant to make access into and through the school easier.
“This will make a massive difference for families and children and be a less confronting time, particularly for those who have feelings of separation anxiety,” she said.
“Getting all 40 children, their parents, siblings and gear into the school can be a stressful experience, especially for special needs children.”
“This is an absolutely exciting opportunity for us and will give us a calmer way to start the day. We also got funding of $10,000 for new equipment to give students more tactile and sensory experiences.”
“The grants will have a substantial impact on our program and we are hoping to have the work completed by the middle of next year.”
The state government program is designed to help pre-schools become more accessible and inclusive for children of all abilities.
In announcing the grants on 11 October, Jaclyn Symes, member for Northern Victoria said, “Building the Education State starts with the early years and families right across Victoria and here in the Yarra Valley will get to reap the benefits of this funding.”