Barrington Street Pre-school and Long Day Care Centre opens its new playground

Barrington Street staff and students cut the ribbon with the help of some of their playground building supports. Photo Anne Keen
Barrington Street staff and students cut the ribbon with the help of some of their playground building supports. Photo Anne Keen

It's important to never give up on a dream and for the staff at Barrington Street Pre-School and Long Day Care Centre one of theirs has recently come true.

On Wednesday, December 11, they celebrated the official opening of the new natural backyard playground. According to director, Donna Summerville extending into the back has been something in a pipeline for many years.

"It'a always been a dream to expand and when our wonderful neighbour provided the opportunity to buy part of his land, we were able to turn it into a reality," Donna said.

Before the land at the back of the building on Barrington Street was available, there wasn't much room to do anything and therefore the preschool had its play area set up in the front yard.

Once the land was purchased, the budget was set and the staff worked hard researching ideas for a natural, sustainable area that would stimulate the children's learning.

Gloucester Landscapes was engaged to do the work with landscaper, Joel Sheely eager to take on the task mainly for the chance to design an area from scratch, but also to help support the school his children attend.

According to Joel, thanks to the help of local businesses like Bucketts Building Supplies and builders like Nico Dunyhoven who chipped in by discounting costs or donating materials, the project came in on budget. They even managed to get the job done in seven days.

The area consists of a large soft-fall area, a musical wall made from recycled goods, a tee pee, an upcycled sailboat, bike track, outdoor kitchen, a space to kick the ball around with lots of shade and an area for the children to have morning tea. They worked hard to use as many natural and recycled materials as possible.

There are plans for a veggie garden but due to the current water restrictions it won't be planted until they're able to water outdoors again.

Donna has been with the school since day one, 24 years ago, and to see the playground in use by the children was a little overwhelming.

"It's turn out so much better than I expected," she said.

And getting it finished and opened for the older children to enjoy before they head off to big school, was huge bonus for the staff.

"We'd set up platforms inside so the children could watch the workers building the garden," Donna said. "They were busting to get out there and have a play."

The hope now is to expand the intake numbers to provide more service for the community. Although Donna said they aren't quite sure what that will look like, it may involve increasing after school care and holiday care spaces.

"It's something that's needed in Gloucester."