Early Start celebrates fifth birthday milestone reflecting on the journey so far
The University of Wollongong’s (UOW) Early Start turns five this week, and with traditional birthday parties celebrations paused due to coronavirus restrictions it will celebrate with a Big Birthday Show on Facebook on Friday 22 May at 11 AM.
Early Start will also launch an Early Start Community Facebook Page where parents and educators can join like-minded people for support, advice and fun.
Beginning with the core premise of “every child deserves the best possible start to life”, Early Start is an offering that brings together early childhood teaching and community engagement initiatives with world-leading researchers working on all aspects of child development, from cognitive development to digital learning and literacy to healthy lifestyles and social inclusion.
One of the physical spaces where Early Start initiatives take place is the Discovery Space, a children’s museum that presents a wonderland of fun activities for children aged from birth through to the primary school years, each designed to help children learn while they play.
The Discovery Space is a popular destination for children and families, with more than 560,000 visitors since it opened in May 2015.
Early Start CEO Anita Kumar said the fifth anniversary was an important occasion for the initiative. Just as in the life of a child, turning five is a big milestone for Early Start too.
“Those early years are so important in setting the foundation for the rest of their life. I believe we have set a great foundation and made such a positive impact in our first five years. I’m excited by what the future holds,” Ms Kumar said.
“Early Start has set out to have a positive impact on the life trajectories of children, especially those growing up in regional and remote Australia, but we couldn’t do it alone. We work with families, practitioners, researchers, service providers, policy makers, governments and the wider community to create opportunities for children to flourish.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic has posed challenges, with the Discovery Space temporarily closed due to the lockdown, staff and researchers have engaged with children, parents and carers, and early childhood education centres through Discovery At Home, an online program of events, activities and advice that has reached more than 200,000 people.
“We haven’t lost focus on improving the lives of children. During times like these our work becomes even more important,” Ms Kumar said.
UOW Early Start was established in 2015 using $31 million in funding from the Federal Government and a $7 million donation from the Abbott Foundation. To learn more about Early Start, please visit their website, here.