‘Sending Rainbows’ to support students impacted by floods

A Gosford-based preschool educator has written and illustrated a children’s book in support of communities rebuilding from the 2022 Northern Rivers floods. Natassia Soper reports. 

Teacherreading a book to students sitting on the floor in a library classroom Teacherreading a book to students sitting on the floor in a library classroom
Image: Devastating floods inspired pre school eduacator Donalee Collins to write a book

Devastated by floodwaters and hit with a huge clean-up bill, Coraki CWA Preschool has spent the past two years rebuilding after it was impacted by one of the worst floods the community has ever experienced.

Now, a new children’s book written and illustrated by an early childhood educator 600km away, has given the service an extra boost as they continue to recover from the disaster.

Educator Donalee Collins, from Gosford Preschool Inc, wrote the book ‘Sending Rainbows’ after children at the service asked what they could do to help the victims of the March 2022 floods.

Along with donations of food and clothing, Ms Collins wanted to give the children something to smile about.

The 50-year-old proud Wiradjuri woman also saw it as a chance to create a tool for her littlest learners to gain an understanding about natural disasters, such as floods.

“I wanted to give the children of Coraki the emotional understanding that they were not alone at a level they would understand,” she said.

“I hoped it would help in their healing journey to know others just like them were thinking of them and that their struggle and strength were seen and that they would see brighter days again.”

Set at Gosford and Coraki preschools, the fictional story is about mateship and explains the impact of the floods from the perspective of native animals helping each other.

“It is a story about strength, courage, resilience and love,” Ms Collins said.

“When I read the story, the children are delighted to see their preschool and local magpie. It instantly makes them want to hear more and evokes questions about floods, what they are and how they can help.

“There are no words to describe how much it warms my heart to know that the children and families at Coraki connected with the book and, in a small way, it helped them heal.”

Floodwaters around homes Floodwaters around homes
Image: Coraki CWA Preschool has spent the past two years rebuilding after devastating floods

Flood impact

Coraki was one of the worst-affected areas in the Northern Rivers during the 2022 floods, with the small town of 500 cut-off from supplies for about a week.

According to the Richmond Valley Council Flooding Economic Impact Statement, 300 properties in Coraki were destroyed or damaged.

Coraki CWA Preschool Director Suzie Carey said, for some, the damage meant relocating for months.

“Everything we had collected and used over the last 50 years was destroyed,” she said.

“Nothing could be kept, because if the water didn’t get it the mould did.

“The children had lost everything that they knew, their homes, toys, and their normality.”

Coraki CWA Preschool lost all its furniture, equipment and resources, with the rebuild process continuing thanks to the help of the community and donations.

“We were fortunate to receive so many donations of resources, money, and grant opportunities,” Ms Carey said.

“When the book arrived, we were shocked and truly touched to think someone had taken so much time and creativity to create a book just for us.”

Ms Collins is now working to get the book officially published and on the shelves of early education services and bookstores across the country to use as a learning tool and promote discussion around natural disasters, connection and empathy.

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