On the tools in Alice Springs
Yipirinya School, Alice Springs isn’t like other Australian schools. Some of the children are orphans, others are exposed to unimaginable things at home, and language can be problematic due to belonging to different tribes. The attendance rate of the school can differ from 40 students one week to 100 the next. It takes very patient, resilient educators to teach there.
When Lukas met with the school and learned their story, it affected him deeply and brought him very quickly back to the core of why we build play environments - for the development of the child. Being pro-risk and realising these children were accustomed to risk in general play, meant this called for further reflection.
The challenges of play deficits that we normally offset for positive learning were thrown out the window, as we were facing a whole new set of challenges. If we could create an engaging space that increased attendance from 2 days to 3 days a week, this would be the greatest learning outcome for them. And naturally we didn’t need to incorporate risk, because the kids were already exposed to it outside of school. Therefore the space needed a design that prolonged the play, not interrupted it. A platform for social interaction as a base for learning. A place to connect with each other and themselves. A sanctuary giving them the rite to play.
Our experience in Alice Springs was monumental for our team. It started as a simple conversation, kicked-off as an emotional and challenging journey throughout the build and resulted in a tear-jerking unveiling that could make even a grown man cry. Grab some tissues and watch the video here:
Even though the initial task of building this play environment seemed daunting and made us reevaluate our own mission, we started small and we got there in the end. People tend to see a huge problem as too big to change, but a small gesture of intention can build one of the bricks in the refuge of helping these children. Our natural default setting is not knowing what to do, a feeling of being overwhelmed perhaps - where the problem seems much bigger than anyone. But if a lot of people do a little bit, just an action to help, it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just needs to start somewhere.
Yipirinya School celebrates their 40th anniversary on September 22nd so we were delighted to work with them in creating an area for play, interaction, connection, reflection and growth. A huge thank you to the Wearthy boys (Kurt, Jed and Ryan) who spent time away from their families to bring some magic to these children's lives <3