Preschoolers riding wave of sustainability

Children at a Sylvania early learning centre are helping turn dumpster surfboards into unique artworks. Natassia Soper reports. 

Students painting a surfboard. Students painting a surfboard.
Image: Children at Chantel's Kindergarten in Sylvania have been giving dozens of old surfboards a second life.

Some of our littlest learners are riding the wave of sustainability, helping save unwanted surfboards destined for the tip and turning them into rad pieces of art. 

Children at Chantel’s Kindergarten in Sylvania in southern Sydney have been hanging 10 with south coast surfer and father Mathew King to give dozens of old boards a second life, while learning about sustainability and art. 

The group of 28 youngsters aged three to five spent the day recently adding their creative designs to donated boards from their local community, using special paint pens and a little creativity. 

The children also learned basic surfing skills and mindfulness activities, such as yoga and breath work.  

Kindergarten director Erin Rapp said the children enjoyed participating in the workshop and connecting with real-world learning.

“It was an opportunity for the children to connect hands-on with the community through sustainable practices,” she said.

“It showcases the importance of reusing items and creating something new out of them.”

A man stretching with students. A man stretching with students.
Image: Surfer Mathew King with students at the Kindergarten.

Saving surfboards

Surfers such as Mathew King are highlighting the waste and sustainability issues around the surf industry.

More than 400,000 surfboards are manufactured across the globe every year and most of them are destined for landfill, with no current way to recycle the non-biodegradable material.  

Mr King, the self-described ‘South Coast Kook’, is on a mission to rescue 300 surfboards from becoming waste and to date has saved 130 boards, through the help of young groms attending his workshops.  

“The process begins with collecting donated surfboards and fins from the local community and waste centres,” he said.

“Some are in excellent condition but seriously outdated, while others require work to ensure a safe surface for painting. 

 “The result is a collection of vibrant, one-of-a-kind artworks that breathe new life into discarded items and contribute to a more sustainable future.”  

The completed artworks are donated back to the services or raffled off to find a new home.  

A group of people with a painted surfboard. A group of people with a painted surfboard.
Image: Mr King and staff at the Kindergarten with one of the surfboards.

Community connections

 The NSW Department of Education is the largest regulator of early childhood education and care services nationally with more than 6000 services in NSW that fall in scope of the National Quality Framework (NQF) and state legislation.

All approved services across NSW are assessed and rated against the NQF, which sets a high benchmark for the quality of all services.

Quality area 6 recognises that collaborative relationships with communities is fundamental to achieving quality outcomes for children and that community partnership is based on active communication, consultation, and collaboration. 

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