Buckets Early Learning Centre in Hughesdale is committed to climate and health and are taking action to support the wellbeing of the early childhood service community and the planet. They have been an active member of the Achievement Program since 2014 and have recently demonstrated their commitment to Climate and Health.
Centre Coordinator, Erin Gordon says, “As we have worked through the Achievement Program, it has provided us a baseline to explore and develop our practices from taking into account many perspectives and ideas.”
Increased active travel
They commenced a centre-wide audit of their service practices in relation to sustainability by engaging with the whole service and local community. Active travel was increased through activities including a revamping their facilities for bikes, scooters, helmets and pram storage; promoting the health benefits of walking; and repainting the pedestrian crossing. The Centre offers educational active play, movement and road safety experiences.
Eat more plants and reduce waste
The food policy was reviewed and wastage reduced, plus healthy food options were made available and harvested by the children from the Centre’s vegetable gardens. The families were regularly provided with information about creating healthy lunches and snacks.
Composting, recycling systems and re-useable drink bottles and sustainability professional development for various educators helped the centre reduce waste.
Use less energy
To minimise energy use, the Centre arranged for green power and installed solar panel systems along with utilising the natural light and fresh air from windows in each classroom. The educational programs incorporated concepts including wind turbines, solar power and passive cooling, and educators attended CERES workshops and an Indigenous knowledge session on biodiversity with a local Elder. Families have been encouraged to adopt energy-saving efforts at home.
Connect with nature
The Centre connects with nature using natural elements such as potted plants and hay bale gardens and encourages local biodiversity such as bug hotels and nesting boxes. They also offer regular visits to the Linear Reserve to engage with local green spaces.
Indigenous planting, outdoor winter play, participation in Nature Play week, working kitchen gardens and the introduction of Educator “Walking Meetings” has contributed to the centre connecting with nature.
“The children are so engaged with different initiatives we launched within this program such as the nesting box, intentionally planned Indigenous gardens and things we learned working with different visitors,” says Miss Gordon.
The Centre is becoming climate-ready by acknowledging extreme heat in their Safe Environments policy and appointing an Outdoor Educator, who champions environmental management systems and provides weather risk assessments for excursions to protect children from any harm.
The Centre has used resources from like-minded organisations such as The Little Sprouts Program, Sustainability Victoria and Stephanie Alexander Kitchen Garden to assist with their climate actions.
“Connecting with like-minded organisations and building these relationships allowed us to learn alongside the children and build this new knowledge into our programs in different and exciting ways,” says Early Childhood Teacher, Effie Perioris.
Buckets Early Learning Centre are embedding sustainability at the heart of everything they do and are having a positive influence on children, educators, families and the local community.
Operations Manager, Joshua Newlands says, “By engaging the whole service with the Climate and Health pathway, we were able to foster a real sense of commitment and change within our community from children, educators and families alike. The shifts we were able to make in our practice have continued to flow through and benefit us all in so many ways.”