A New Home

A New Home

The recent quakes have ravaged the landscape and devastated communities in the Hurunui and Kaikoura districts, and further afield. With such a jolt, the lives of many New Zealanders have been thrown into turmoil. Again.

Across Canterbury, indeed the country, people have banded together to support those worst affected – with their time and resources, with donations of food and water, with a great deal of aroha.

This is not a story about the disruption caused by the recent quakes or about the many efforts and initiatives unfolding to support those in need. It is instead a story about two Playcentres connecting and supporting one another – when, as a result of the earlier onslaught of quakes, one Playcentre lost its home.

Woolston Playcentre’s building is due to be demolished and rebuilt - so the families at Linwood Playcentre have opened their doors to their ‘neighbours’.

Amid such disruption, the Woolston families have also explored new possibilities and environments for play. President Rachel Pharazyn considers the way that challenges – like being without a centre – force you to get creative. And get out and about!

‘Move about Mondays’ are all about exploring the natural environment – inspired by the Explorer Sessions at Avonhead and Prebbleton Playcentres. ‘We had planned on a trip to Cave Rock on Monday 14th, but that was cancelled because of tsunami warnings’, explains Rachel. ‘Then on Fridays we have play dates, hosted by our different families.’

With tremors underfoot and young children to care for – and with no centre of their own – these Playcentre parents are adaptable, creative and resilient. Rachel talks about the way the families at Woolston – and coordinators Ruth and Nadia – ‘always pick up the ball and run with it’ – and, when necessary, ‘change the game plan!'

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, Woolston and Linwood enjoy Playcentre together. ‘These are our quieter days’, explains Linwood President, Andrea Read. Although, with the influx of families from Woolston, they are far from quiet now!

‘It is so important we keep the momentum going and the culture strong within our centre as we merge with a new group of families’, says Rachel. On a basic level, ‘it is so important that our kids still have Playcentre’.

The Woolston families are immensely grateful to Linwood for their support. ‘We were out of options, and they were so welcoming and friendly: they immediately said, “yes, of course you can come!” And they didn’t impose any conditions.’

As Andrea says, welcoming a bunch of new families into the mix ‘makes you realise that Playcentre is your home ­– you feel like you’re opening your private home up to visitors’.

At the same time, ‘we want Woolston to feel like it is their home too’. But it will take time. ‘We are still figuring each other out’, Andrea continues.

‘The friendship is in its infancy’, echoes Rachel. Of course, while the adults are still getting to know each other and settling into new routines, ‘it’s a different story for the kids – they have transitioned really easily, and made lots of new friends’.

Different centres may be different, with different strengths and cultures, but for the tamariki, Playcentre is Playcentre – a place for free play, surrounded by kids of different ages and positive, supportive parents. From the kids’ perspective, ‘little has changed’, says Rachel - 'it’s all fun and easy.’

‘Playcentre families understand Playcentre', remarks Andrea – and what it is to support each other and be together’.

‘The most important thing is looking after our families and staying together’, agrees Rachel. ‘The location of sessions, and the status of our building, is secondary to that.’

‘Yes, it will be great to get into our new building’, says Rachel, ‘but right now the circumstances have forced us to do things differently.’

Or, rather, do things the same, but in different places, with new friends.

Pictured: ‘Woolston Playcentre have a couple of Dads on session', says Andrea, 'and they are a huge hit in the sandpit because they dig big moats and then make rivers’.

A New Home

Posted: Sunday 20 November 2016