Winter solstice festival brings light to children post bushfire trauma
A local preschool on the New South Wales South Coast has used a winter solstice festival to help children to process trauma and build resilience following the devastating impact of bushfire on their community.
Bermagui Preschool used the lead up to its Winter Solstice Fire Festival as a chance to work with children who had been affected by the 2019/20 bushfires which decimated the region, and to help them heal.
Preschool Director Narelle Myers said the tragedy has had a lasting impact on the children and in the months before the Festival, many still had a lot of negative feelings about fire. Educators opened dialogues with the children about fire from a positive perspective, talking about fire safety, offering opportunities for the children to express how they felt at the time and talking about how people like firefighters and SES volunteers were there to help them.
They also talked about the slow-burning techniques of First Nations people, as well as the critical roles of fire in our lives, such as for cooking. Children learnt more about the ways that they can empower themselves, and manage when fires reach a catastrophic level, Ms Myers explained.
Children created candle holders to join in the festivities, with members of the local community coming together to support, with over 100 people present on the night.
Participation in the festivities, Ms Myers said, allowed children to reframe their experiences with fire and to develop greater resilience, understanding what help is available.
“Through many hardships in recent years, quality, not-for-profit community preschools like ours have proven to be an essential, supportive haven for children, families, staff and the broader community,” added Bermagui Preschool Educator Caitlin Brown.
The comments in this story have been gathered from coverage by About Regional which may be accessed here.
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