Goodstart Joondalup wins national sustainability award
An early learning centre in Joondalup is creating new learning experiences for youngsters, encouraging children how to care for the environment and minimise their own environmental footprint.
Over the past few years, Goodstart Joondalup
has been on journey of transformation with educators embedding sustainability practices into everyday life at the centre. They have introduced their own worm farm, installed a water tank, grow their own fruit, vegetables and herbs, make their own fertiliser to put back into their gardens, and have even created a unique recycling system — all with the help of curious toddlers and kindergarten children.
Their efforts have paid off — Goodstart Joondalup recently won the National Award for Sustainability in the organisation’s state-wide awards program, recognition they are making a real difference.
Centre director Nicole Jeffrey-Forward said going green was proving to be a precious lesson for children.
“As a centre, we made a commitment to reduce our energy consumption and embed sustainability practices into our service. We wanted to get the children involved as much as possible, knowing what a unique learning experience this would be for them,” Mrs Jeffrey-Forward said.
“Children are now taking great joy and interest learning all about water conservation, energy consumption, the importance of recycling, and also what it means for them to be mindful of and help to reduce their own environmental footprint.
“Everywhere you look, you can see the impact of what we are trying to achieve which is very rewarding. As educators, this inspires us to continue capturing the interest, wonder and excitement of children, helping to give them ownership of their physical environment and of their own learning,” she said.
Starting the journey of sustainability began back in 2012 when Goodstart invited a research centre to conduct a business health check to report on the centre’s energy consumption. Around this time, the centre also received funds from a Telstra grant which they used to set up a worm farm and rain water tank. And it’s all grown from there.
Scraps from the kitchen now become food for Strawberry – the centre’s pet rabbit. Any food scraps that Strawberry can’t eat go into the compost bin or the worm farm. The centre uses as much natural light as possible, opening blinds and turning off lights when they are not needed. When doing their laundry, clothes are hung out on a clothesline rather than going in the dryer.
In the kindy outdoor environment, recycled items are used wherever possible, such as a bathtub and set of old tyres which have been used to create garden beds. Children are educated about the importance of recycling and instead things being thrown away, they are encouraged to critically think about multipurpose uses for various items, including craft items for activities.
In the worm garden, worms break down the food scraps and product castings which are diluted and used as fertiliser on the gardens, which families can also take home to use on their own gardens. They grow a variety of herbs, fruit and vegetables including lemon grass, apples, strawberries and sweet potatoes. Once harvested, all fresh produce goes to the kitchen where the in-centre cook prepares delicious healthy meals for children. Fresh rainwater is capture off the shed roof and is accessible to children to use in the outdoor environment for things like watering the garden and water play.
Goodstart Joondalup, which has 105 children attending the service over a week, will continue to research age-appropriate sustainable practices into their centre for children of all ages.
The centre has also recently received an overall ‘Exceeding’ rating under the national accreditation scheme as part of Australia’s National Quality Framework
(NQF) assessment process.