Big Buddies

Big Buddies

On Friday 9 September, 15 senior students from West Melton Primary School spent two hours with the children and families at West Melton Playcentre as part of the William Pike Challenge Award that they are working towards.

The WPCA provides a framework for students to build ‘resilience, connectedness and a growth mindset’ through embracing new challenges and engaging with the community.

‘There were some nerves initially’, says Playcentre mum, Angela Collier. But these disappeared as the shared urge to play took over. The school children got down to the level of the Playcentre tamariki for a morning of stories, puzzles and painting – with unlimited rides in the wagon for the little ones!

However, the morning wasn’t all fun and games. As classroom teacher, Diane van der Zwet, explains, ‘the Award involves students spending 20 hours learning a new hobby or sport, doing 20 hours’ community service and experiencing 6 challenging outdoor activities’. At the end of the session, the students had time allocated for cleaning – what they referred to as ‘housework’. ‘They cleaned floors and washed and sorted toys, both inside and out’, says Diane. 

‘Many of the kids had attended Playcentre when they were little and it gave them a sense of giving back’, she says – which is exactly what the programme seeks to promote.

Angela’s eldest son James (12) is one such student: along with his two younger sisters, Sophie (9) and Rebecca (8), he attended West Melton Playcentre when he was little. When baby brother Hamish (1) came along it meant a new phase of Playcentre for Mum. ‘Playcentre was amazing for my kids’, says Angela, ‘and they were determined that Hamish should get to go to Playcentre as well. So here I am again!’

Angela comments on the tuakana-teina relationships that characterised the interactions: as the school children supported the younger ones by reading to them and as the Playcentre children showed their big buddies around their centre. For Angela it was special seeing this big brother-little brother connection between James and Hamish – ‘both boys were excited about the occasion, and James felt proud and at ease’.

While much of the morning was spent doing ‘housework’, it was really about making and reinforcing connections – between the older kids and the little ones, and between the School and Playcentre.

As Playcentre Coordinator, Pam Higgins, says, 'the older children were really supportive, caring role-models for the Playcentre kids. They gave the little kids their space and helped them to feel comfortable.' She adds that, 'in such a familiar, safe environment, the Playcentre children felt really secure, and not scared at all'.

'We have great kids coming through the community’, says Angela. How lovely seeing them flourish as buddies and role-models for the little ones, and picking up the mop to help with the clean-up! It comes as no surprise that both parties are eager to promote this connection.







Big Buddies

Posted: Thursday 15 September 2016