54 Reasons Mobile Youth Outreach and Play2Learn gives children opportunities to play
The Sector > Quality > In The Field > 54 Reasons Mobile Youth Outreach and Play2Learn gives children opportunities to play

54 Reasons Mobile Youth Outreach and Play2Learn gives children opportunities to play

by Freya Lucas

March 02, 2023

Outreach programs 54 Reasons and Play2Learn, both initiatives of Save the Children Australia, are conducting programs and activities in the remote community of Tumbarumba in the New South Wales Snowy Valleys as a way of supporting the community, which is still recovering from the devastating fires of early 2020, followed by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Both circumstances have left families in the community feeling isolated and leaving them struggling to access services for their children.


For school-aged children, the 54 Reasons holiday programs have come “at the perfect time” to provide free opportunities for children to play, learn and engage in a safe and supportive environment.


“Days like this are good, especially for the kids. For the children to have these activities that they don’t normally have access to and new experiences, it’s good,” parent James shared while he watched six-year-old daughter Kendal and his two other children play on the track oval.


“I like them being involved in sports, I think it’s good for them. And there’s not as much opportunity in the smaller community for them to play different sports. Touch [footy] is currently an option that they don’t have unless we travel to Wagga Wagga, which is an hour away.”


For team leader Brody, who is the 54 Reasons contact for Murrumbidgee, Brody the importance of engaging with young people in the community through activities like these is obvious. 


“If we didn’t have this today, there’d be no school holiday programs,” he said. “We are trying to prevent risk-taking behaviours [that may arise] because the community has limited opportunities. So there’s that level of risk which we try and mitigate by having mobile youth sports accessible to kids (sic).”


Mobile Youth Outreach, which works with children aged between eight and 18, is also delivered during school term, which helps increase school attendance. The various activities also bring students and teachers together in a fun environment that changes the dynamic of their relationship. 

“We did a cooking class where we partnered the teachers up with the students, and they were doing activities together. They were cooking, prepping meals, laughing, and joking around. It was a different dynamic. It was an opportunity for the teachers to see the kids in a positive light. It was really nice to see, and the kids picked up on that as well,” Brody added. 


For younger children, Play2Learn offers things like games of hopscotch, blowing bubbles, finger puppets, and painting. There’s also an area with things like plastic jugs, tongs and containers that encourage children to play with ordinary items normally available at home. 


The child-friendly space caters for children from birth to five years and their carers.


28-year-old mum Angela has been bringing her children Edward (two), Katie (four), and four-month-old Evelyn to Mobile Play2Learn even before Evelyn was born. 


“I’m at home full time with them, they don’t go to daycare. The biggest thing is even just a bit of that social side for them. A lot of the same kids come each week. So it’s been good for their social development,” she shared.


54 Reasons Family Support Specialist Lizzie explained that for many of the children who attend, they aren’t accessing early childhood education and care (ECEC), “so this is their only social outlet and we know how important it is for children to have as many opportunities as they can to play, especially in the zero to five age setting.” 


“One of my favourite parts is watching the children grow and their confidence grow from first coming to our playgroup, being really shy, apprehensive children to then coming in and saying, ‘Let’s set up the kitchen today’, or whatever it may be to really taking that ownership of our group,” she added.

Like the Mobile Youth Outreach program, Play2Learn started to go out in July 2022 to reach predominantly bushfire affected areas in the region. 


“I think the ripple effect from such things as fires particularly has been that families have been isolated and not able to access services for their children. And then with having COVID-19 straight after the bushfires, that isolation period of children not being able to connect and engage with others in their community,” Lizzie explained.


After Tumbarumba, the 54 Reasons team also headed to Tumut and Batlow in the NSW Snowy Valleys. All in all, around 80 children attended the school holiday programs, and engaged with parents and carers who stayed around to watch their children play.


Find out more about the work of 54 Reasons, Play2Learn or Save the Children Australia using the links provided. 


The activities outlined in this story were delivered in partnership with 54 Reasons, Snowy Valleys Council, Anglicare’s Homelessness Youth Assistance program, NRL Riverina, Tumut Regional Family Services and Dindima Aboriginal Rugby League Football Club. They were made possible thanks to funding from the Australian Government for the Black Summer Bushfire Recovery Grants Program.


Images in this piece were created by Lucia Ondrusova and Save the Children.

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