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Cooks River Action Research makes a first for OSHC educators

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The Cooks River Action Research was a project which developed environmental and cultural awareness in school aged children in Council’s Out Of School Hours Care. Inner West Council Educare Training, Resource and Research Officer Sylvia Perdikaris, shares the story with Amplify readers.

Inner West Council’s Children and Family Services has always been committed to the education and care of children in the Inner West. There are various programs run through our five Out of School Hours Care (OSHC) services that occur during term and our three vacation care services that run during the school holidays.

These programs are developed by the individual teams at each service and cater for the interests and development of the children at each individual service. Each centre is reflective of the community and current abilities, interests and culture of the children that access the service.

We stay SANE

SANE (Support. Acknowledge. Network. Educate.) was established in 2014. SANE is an OSHC specific professional development program created and facilitated by Inner West Council’s Children & Family Services. All Inner West Council OSHC educators attend these sessions twice a term. They are OSHC specific and further develop educators’ knowledge and skills around the legislative requirements, the community and advocacy.

It is within these sessions that the OSHC educators wanted to make a difference to our centres, the community, the world. Hence, the Cooks River Action Research (CRAR) project was born.

A first for OSHC

In 2017 they embarked on an investigative journey that is a first of its kind, in the OSHC sector. The teams from our five centres have engaged children and families in a 12 month action research project around the Cooks River, its history and its sustainability

The project was split into four sections to give participants enough time to research, understand, engage the community and make a difference.

Term based sections

Term one focused on the Aboriginal history of the Cooks River.

Term two highlighted the contamination of the river and was expressed through the development of comic book strips.  This medium gave a platform to their ideas and gained knowledge.

The third term focused on the waste process, where children created investigative documentaries.

The last term saw children using waste materials to make a difference through the creative visual arts.

Within each section of the research the educators guided children and were co-collaborators in the process. The educators and children engaged community groups, expressed themselves in their own individual ways and sent the message loud and clear; children are citizens and they can make a difference.

Expanded our pedagogy

The CRAR process has developed our OSHC educators’ pedagogy and has allowed them to gain multiple perspectives.

This included developing their cultural competence, intentionality within their program and pedagogy, as well as taking a holistic approach. CRAR has made it evident that projects instil ownership and the development of knowledge in a co-constructive way.

Celebrations

The CRAR by the River event was the crescendo to this learning experience and a show case of the collaborative work between educators and children. This event definitely highlighted the importance of co-constructive and sustained shared thinking processes that occur within Inner West Council’s OSHC services, which is unique to OSHC.

More than 100 families, educators and community members attended the event. Catarina Frago Matos from the Cooks River Alliance was amazed by the knowledge gained by the children participating in the Cooks River Action Research project and the passion they showed for its sustainability.

It was truly inspiring to see that the children had such a good understanding of the various issues affecting the Cooks River and the different ways in which we can all play a role in improving it by keeping our homes and communities litter free.

Inner West Council’s Out of School Care educators are to be congratulated for leading this much needed fantastic project in our community.

Catarina Frago Matos, Cooks River Alliance

 

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