Tiny hands grasp the fence as delighted eyes observe the construction workers who are busy planting large, leafy green trees. Now, it’s only a matter of adding the finishing touches, because on Tuesday 14 November, the new UTS Child Care centre at Blackfriars officially opens ahead of the arrival of children, staff and families on Monday 20th.
Knowledge Administrator in the Information Technology Division Kim Neville has two children who’ve been attending Blackfriars for years. Idris (aged five) and Vita (aged one) are excited about the new facilities.
“Our kids are going to love it because the outdoors is, honestly, three times more than we have in our own little yard in Newtown,” reveals Neville.
The state-of-the-art facilities have been under construction since the beginning of this year. UTS Child Care CEO Debra Clarke says consistent communication with the children, and their parents, has been key. In preparation for the big move, they’ve been playing with puzzles featuring artists’ impressions of the new building and watching the construction from the safety of their current playground.
The centre’s educators have also been using the build to teach the children about safety, to extend their literacy and to develop their play by mimicking the builders putting on their uniforms, digging holes and moving rocks.
To gauge how parents are feeling in the lead-up to the transition, the centre devised a drop-box survey for parents to complete at arrival and departure. The ‘yes’ vote has been overwhelming in stark contrast with the ‘no’ jar, which remains startlingly empty.
Clarke says the re-build is a win-win. The purpose-built centre will not only include more play areas outside (we’re talking sandpits, a grassed area with play equipment, build-your-own-cubby framework, toddlers’ water-play area, amphitheatre for story-time, raised veggie patch and a chicken pen), but more playrooms inside, a dedicated dining area and spaces for an extra 34 children each day.
“It’s not only better from an OHS perspective,” says Clarke, “but better for the children in that staff are not disrupting their play. If they’ve built a large tower or built something that’s an ongoing project, it doesn’t have to get packed away in order to set up for mealtimes.”
Neville says Idris is particularly ecstatic. Says Neville, “We went on holidays recently and he was announcing to me that on Monday when he gets there it’ll be the new Blackfriars, and he can’t wait to be in the new Blackfriars. I had to break it to him that it wasn’t quite ready yet. He was mortified!”
Thank goodness the wait is almost over.
To find out more about Blackfriars Children’s Centre and how to enrol, visit uts.ac/2xskYfy
Bachelor of Communication (Journalism)