2014 Early Years Awards, National Gallery of Victoria, 20th October 2014

Glastonbury was shortlisted as one of three finalists, from many, many nominations in the award category of ‘Communities that are more family and child friendly’ for the Imagination Station at Northside (Norlane). By way of background on this project and the nomination for this award: For the past two years, Glastonbury Community Services has delivered a play based parent and child enrichment program to 50 families and 60 children (aimed at young mothers aged 15 – 22 and their children) each year to promote optimal and healthy development at the Salvation Army Northside Community Centre.

The program, in collaboration with the Salvation Army, has been delivered in a large room inside the centre which previously had no suitable or safe outside option. In fact, prior to this initiative being undertaken, there was no sheltered, secure playground within 3kms of the centre. This new external play area, now known as Imagination Station at Northside, is located in the heart of the highly disadvantaged northern suburbs of Geelong and has enhanced the Geelong community’s welfare hub facility by providing a safe, welcoming, informal and wheelchair / pram accessible outdoor play area for vulnerable children and their families. This space will provide further motivation to come to the centre and thereby increase the likelihood of needs assessments, immediate support and further support opportunities by way of referral for hard to reach service users.

The project outcome was due largely to a number of people:

  • The generous and significant grant from the Percy Baxter Charitable Trust, managed by Perpetual – Gillian Hill and Austin Patterson ;
  • The partnership with the Salvation Army – Gloria Eldridge, Jo Creswell and John Ferwerda;
  • To the Glastonbury Staff, in particular Debbie Maddocks for her commitment, passion and enthusiasm for this project together with Barb Hayes, Helen Elliott and the Early Years Team, and to Cath Somerset around the Grant submission.

The development of this outdoor playground was a clear demonstration of a collaborative community project with support from many organisations and individuals including staff, parents and locals who pooled their resources, ideas and labour to create this wonderful space. This is in keeping with our Vision that “all children, young people and families will be happy, healthy and heard.”

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