Ryan Road Childcare and Swim School take sustainable steps for a greener future
Ryan Road Childcare and Swim School in Pakenham Victoria has been taking steps towards a greener future, participating in the Climate and Health Pathway of the Achievement Program, which is supported by the Victorian Government and delivered by Cancer Council Victoria.
Ryan Road has been a dedicated member of the Achievement Program since joining in 2017. The service has been recognised for all six health priority areas, with their final recognition being awarded in 2020 for mental health and wellbeing.
In the piece below, some insights about how the service is contributing actively to sustainability are discussed.
The service has pledged to reduce waste and implemented several sustainable programs and actions. These include:
- Limiting the amount of printing – the service is providing more information for families via online platforms.
- Membership to the Reverse Art Truck recycling program, which promotes creative re-use of resources to help reduce the amount of waste within their community while supporting creative and playful education
- Supporting the ‘Bread Tags for Wheelchairs’ program, which reduces the number of bread tags being disposed of in our tips; they are collected at the service and shipped to a company that melts and reuses the markers to create wheelchairs for children
- Implementing a reduce, reuse, recycle program across the service, encouraging more sustainable resources for experiences, and introducing a waste storage tub in each room to reuse paper.
Since implementing these new changes, the service has noticed a difference in the amount of waste being thrown into the bins.
Increasing active travel
Despite a location that limits on-foot travel, Ryan Road has still found ways to increase active play within their service. Last October they undertook a friendly challenge between rooms – points were awarded for each physical, mental and kind experience planned into weekly programs. They also registered a team for Black Dog Institute’s Walking solidarity challenge.
Connecting with nature and eating more plants
To support children to connect with nature, the service provides several experiences including participating in National Tree Day, where the children are able to plant trees around the service grounds, and adding watering cans to reduce water waste after mealtimes. Other experiences involving natural materials have included exploring flowers, collecting leaves and mud painting.
After seeing the involvement and enjoyment of children with National Tree Day, the service created a new garden-to-kitchen program. This program supports children’s understanding of where food comes from and how to grow and nurture plants.
To support eating more plants, the service is also creating a new chef program to allow children to develop some in-room recipes encouraging children to eat and learn about healthy foods. Children have enjoyed being a part of the cooking process, and as a result are trying more fresh fruit and vegetables.
Using less energy and getting climate-ready
To support the service to use less energy, Ryan Road Childcare and Swim School have updated labels to remind everyone in the service to switch off lights when not in use and encourage conversations with children about saving power.
The service has also adapted its menu to include days that do not involve using the oven.
Other initiatives include:
- Adding sustainable practice events to the services calendar of events to help educate staff, families and children. For example, adding Enviroweek to the centre calendar.
- Creating a ‘horse bucket’ in the kitchen to help reduce the amount of peel and scraps being thrown away.
- Purchasing a compost/worm farm to reduce the amount of waste and support the garden-to-kitchen program.
“Working through the Climate and Health Pathway allowed us to reflect on practices already happening and embed these further,” explained Service Director Jane Rowland.
“It was an opportunity to promote greater awareness towards climate change in the service as well as personally.”
Top tips for other services
Ryan Road Childcare and Swim School has the following tips for organisations looking to get climate ready and reduce their carbon footprint:
- Reduce and reuse as much as possible.
- Wear warmer clothes instead of turning on the heat and open a window instead of turning on the fan.
- Gather information from events, including Enviroweek, to educate children and families in understanding climate change and encourage everyone to work together to find solutions.
- Consider increasing the number of outdoor walk programs to encourage more active experiences.
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