Kids get creative with junk

Emmie and Eden Wilson from Matakana had fun on this makeshift slide.

The grass at Centennial Park in Wellsford was covered with junk last month, but it wasn’t a cause for concern. Instead, it was for a special pop-up play event to encourage kids’ creativity.

Auckland free play exponents Conscious Kids teamed up with Mahurangi Wastebusters for a Junk Play day to create makeshift play equipment from items rescued from landfill at the Rustybrook Road and Lawrie Road refuse and recycling centres.

Everything from crates, buckets and crutches to ropes, ladders and pipes were scattered across the park and children were encouraged to use any or all of it to build or make whatever they fancied.

Conscious Kids co-founder and director Maria Mariotti said the aim of Junk Play days was to encourage play and creativity, as well as to keep items from going to landfill.

“There’s no prescribed outcome, you just see expression and creativity,” she said. “One of the things we tried to do was get feedback from families – everything is successful if there’s a community need.

“One of the best pieces of feedback we received was from a child who sent a letter to Santa saying they wanted junk for Christmas!”

Conscious Kids also runs free nature play holiday events and programmes for schools to encourage learning through collaboration and creativity. Although these activities have largely been confined to Auckland up to now, Maria said they would be running more programmes in the Rodney area in future, not least because there was growing interest in the importance of play from Sport NZ and Recreation Aotearoa.

“We will come and do more activities with schools around here,” she said. “There’s funding available to make it free for schools, but the main thing is to show there’s a need. This programme is designed to teach kids in a fun way.”

She said outdoor play in nature was the ideal pathway to meaningful and authentic learning and children needed the opportunity to take risks and set their own challenges to become confident, capable adults.

“It allows educators to see what the children are interested in and to enhance the learning of what they observe,” she said. “It’s almost individualistic.”

Conscious Kids will be at the Big Buzz Festival at Matakana Primary School on Sunday, February 14, from 9am to 4pm.


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