Bermagui Preschool will use Bushfire Recovery grant to make a therapy room
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Bermagui Preschool will use Bushfire Recovery grant to make a therapy room

by Freya Lucas

July 19, 2021

Not-for-profit early childhood education and care (ECEC) provider Bermagui Preschool will use a $476,252 Bushfire Local Economic Recovery Package to create a therapy and counselling room, local news source Bega District News has reported. 


The room will provide one-on-one trauma and resilience counselling for children, families, and educators, as well as a space for children to work with speech and occupational therapists, undertake vision and hearing screenings and visit with child psychologists.


The space will be set up to also be able to be used for a quiet retreat for overwhelmed children and will have cubby nooks, soft furnishing, sensory spaces, and resources, the paper noted.


Currently Bermagui Preschool provides four integrated services for around one hundred local children including preschool programs, long day care, before and after school care and vacation care for children between the ages of six weeks and 12 years of age.


The long term aim of the project, Preschool director Narelle Myers said, is to provide much needed mental health service to strengthen the resilience and well-being of their community, specifically targeting vulnerable children and families.


Currently residents of Bermagui and the surrounding communities have limited access to face-to-face professional counselling and therapy, something the new facility will support them to overcome whilst also increasing access to mental health support and services.


Regular visits from psychologists and counsellors will be offered, as well as guest speakers from NSW Southern Area Health, Headspace, Save the Children and other counselling services.


There will also be specifically designed sessions for children attending the service such as therapy-based art, storytelling, play therapy, cooking, and gardening.


The preschool hopes that the children will learn lifelong skills at a young age which will support them to manage any future stress, anxiety and trauma that may present “in their increasingly complex lives”.


The grant money will also be used to create an outdoor weather learning area that will make the Preschool building and premises more resilient to the ongoing effects of drought, floods and bushfire threat, and provide a more inclusive and accessible space for children who use wheelchairs and have other mobility needs.


A portion of the grant has been set aside to support the mental health and wellbeing of educators at the service through the creation of an educators retreat for the purposes of lunch breaks and respite, a study desk and access to a separate outdoor courtyard.


A bathroom refurbishment will also provide toilet access to those using these spaces. The current bathroom for children is over 40 years old, with many of the original fittings. The inclusion of a separate cubicle will give privacy and dignity for older and more shy children, as well as the increased number of educators and visitors.


“We are delighted and thrilled with the funding approval and the acknowledgment of the importance of Early Education and recognition that quality programs targeting under five-year-olds have long lasting positive impacts for the children, families and the broader communities they live in,” the preschool said in a statement.


For the original coverage of this story please see here

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