Playing naturally at Medowie

Natural Play founder Jennifer Williams with her husband, Samuel, and their daughter.

WHEN Jennifer and Samuel Williams relocated to Medowie, like most families with young children, it became a priority to find a suitable play group for their young daughter.

Providing essential social connections not just for children but also for their parents, play groups form a vital part of community life.

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It can be a challenge, however, to find one that suits all the needs that a family may have, such as appropriate location, time and costs.

For the Williams family an additional concern was whether an established group would offer their child the kind of creative environment that they valued.

When their search for such a group proved unsuccessful Jennifer made the bold decision to establish one of her own.

“We believe it’s crucial for children to get back outside in nature, nurturing the garden, and creating with sustainable art-and-craft activities and socialising in a calm environment that is not overstimulating,” says Jennifer.

“Unstructured free play in nature fosters connection with children and their appreciation of the earth,” she said.

This has long been central to Jennifer and Samuel’s parenting, as they have strived to live and raise their child ‘in the great outdoors’ as much as possible.

Beyond the common concerns about the effects of ‘screen time’ on young developing minds, Jennifer suggests that an added benefit is reduced stress upon parents and caregivers to provide stimulation.

“Outside children’s imaginations are stimulated by the objects and natural environment around them promoting creative and critical thinking.”

Medowie Natural Play launched on Wednesday 19 June with an impressively large gathering of children and caregivers.

One mother of a two year old in attendance praised the initiative, and lauded the creative approach to activities and craft.

“She made a fairy wand from donated linen ribbons and bamboo, spiralised apples from a local grower, made mud pies, and brought home plenty of dirt!

“I think it’s such a wonderful initiative for the region as we have nothing like it.”

Medowie Nature Play meets every Wednesday from 9am-11am at 142 Kindlebark Rd in Medowie.

It is a not-for-profit and the cost is $5.

Ms Williams said initial plans were for free sessions, but that proved uneconomical when large numbers turned out for the first event.

For more information phone Ms Williams on 0432 636 222.

By Lindsay HALL

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