Wellbank Children's Centre is a finalist in the 2018 HESTA Early Childhood Education & Care Awards' Advancing Pedagogy category.
The team from Concord NSW was recognised for designing a learning curriculum that builds children’s awareness of social justice issues and encourages them to take part in philanthropic activities.
Inspired by the ‘UN Convention on the Rights of the Child’ the centre set out to create learning opportunities for children that focused on building their personal sense of social justice and connection to the community.
This included collecting donations for refugees and raising money for people experiencing homelessness.
"The most rewarding aspect of our community connections program has been the opportunity to really instil an awareness and understanding in our children of the wider social justice issues within our community and empower children with knowledge and desire to really impact change.," says the centre's Early Childhood Teacher Elesha Nounnis.
The activities aim to help children become more visible within the community, embedding community engagement within the school curriculum and challenging people’s perception of children’s role as active citizens.
The program has had positive outcomes for the community and children alike, helping children develop an understanding of issues outside their own experiences and fostering a deeper connection between the preschool and the community in which it operates.
Being named a finalist in this year's Awards has meant a great deal to the centre's dedicated team.
"It has provided our centre with a wonderful sense of shared pride and achievement in the rewarding work of our collective team across our educators, children and families," says Elesha. "It recognises our continuing advocacy for children as connected and contributing community citizens."
And if the centre wins?
"As a team we would like to immerse ourselves further in the social justice work of the local community.," Elesha says. "We would like to attend further professional development training in this area.
"We would aim to establish a program that other centres could take on board to explore issues of homelessness, refugee experience and other areas of social justice concern.
"We would also like to establish networking opportunities for early childhood centres specifically within the area of social justice. We'd work with other services to broaden the impact and advocacy of children as active community citizens."