Nurruby OOSH Coordinator Jessica Voysey shares how their Outside School Hours Care service supports children’s health and safety, specific to Quality Area 2, through a range of outdoor activities.
18 November 2021
Could you tell us a bit about your service, and about the Aboriginal Land which your service operates on and the importance of culture at your service?
Nurruby OOSH is one of the services of Nurruby Children’s Services Incorporated. We operate in Narrabri, a regional town in North West NSW on Kamilaroi Land. We take pride in building meaningful relationships with our children and the community. Nurruby OOSH services three schools in the local area and we currently in the process of purchasing the hall that we have rented and been operating in for 14 years. Operating away from school grounds, we offer an environment which is separate and distinct from the school.
Being a service present in the community allows us to form meaningful relationships with Aboriginal Elders. We actively network with members and organisations in the community and engage in cultural events and activities that are happening in the area. Wendy Lotter is an Aboriginal Community Elder and the owner of Platypus Dreamin Educational Programs and Bush Education. Wendy visits Nurruby OOSH each year and provides professional development for the educators on Aboriginal culture and perspectives.
Why is it so important for Nurruby OOSH to promote a healthy lifestyle for children?
We have an opportunity to teach children lifelong habits and healthy lifestyles, and for those habits to go home and into our communities. By involving children and families into the planning and teaching, we have a greater connection with our programs. The programs cover wide range of topics that are mostly instigated by the children. Most recently, we have covered general hygiene, relaxation and wellness and healthy eating.
How do the children respond to such a healthy focus at the service?
The children are always part of the development of the programs and their voices, ideas and suggestions are used when planning. They feel some ownership over the focus and are often heard promoting information and ideas they have explored. Of course, there are often lively discussions about healthy food choices at OOSH, and we still have special party days, birthday cakes and sometimes food.
We have a large outdoor environment, and the children naturally gravitate to the area to engage in tree climbing, group games and gardening experiences. The children have worked hard on establishing gardens and vegetable gardens at the service and are responsible for their care. They will plan menus around the harvest of grown vegetables, follow recipes and complete online shopping and cooking to create something delicious to share with everyone and their families. Excess vegetables and herbs are sent home with children with recipe cards and ideas.
How are you engaging children in physical activity?
The service provides a wide program of activities and experiences to engage all children across differing interests and skill sets. The environments are planned to encourage physical activities such as obstacle courses, group games, challenges, pool excursions, park visits and internal events. OOSH has strong links with the community and has been lucky enough to have visits from local sporting clubs, an educator who plays junior rugby league for NSW and connections with the Boggy Ninja.
We have worked hard on sportsmanship with older community sports heroes role modelling the behaviour. Educators actively participate with children encouraging inclusion and participation across a wide range of experiences. COVID-19 permitting, we have visiting internal events for dance, Zumba and aerobics along with local Aboriginal games and storytelling.