‘Ole!’ Mater Dei Early Childhood Education’s new Outdoor Learning Environment

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Through the incredible support of the Macarthur community, the children of Mater Dei Early Childhood Education’s Preschool have a brand-new Outdoor Learning Environment.

Officially opened and blessed by Most Reverend Brian Mascord, Bishop of Wollongong, on Wednesday, 3 April, this new space will provide a dedicated learning environment and for children attending Mater Dei Preschool who have been assessed with Global Development Delay and/or a diagnosed disability.

Colloquially termed an ‘Ole’ by Mrs Sally Quinnell MP, this new Outdoor Learning Environment (OLE) creates a natural play area for children to utilise their imagination and understand the interdependence between plants, animals, people, and the land.

Illustrating the importance of such a facility for children with additional needs within Macarthur, led by Bishop Mascord, the Blessing and Opening commenced with a traditional smoking ceremony and was attended by a number of dignitaries including Dr Mike Freelander MP and Member for Macarthur, Mrs Sally Quinnell MP and Member for Camden, the Sisters of the Good Samaritan, Mr Richard Drinnan, Deputy Chair of the Mater Dei Board, as well as supporters of the Mater Dei Foundation Dinner, alongside parents, carers and families whose children attend Mater Dei Early Childhood Education programs.

“This is a space that fosters creative learning, spontaneous play, socialising, and the opportunity for our children to take safe risks as they develop their self-confidence, independence and self-esteem,” said Pamela Templeton, Director of Mater Dei Early Childhood Education. “We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to so many generous supporters who have assisted us to realise our dream.”

While such spaces are vital for children to learn and develop, it takes significant support to make them a reality. It is through the incredible generosity of the Macarthur community at the Mater Dei Foundation Dinner in 2023, and the support of the NSW Government, that such a space could be created for the children attending Mater Dei Early Childhood Education.

Matt Cleary, CEO of Mater Dei said, “Every child has a right to play and a right to learn, and this space provides the opportunity for that in a safe, nurturing, and inclusive environment. It goes to the core of what we do at Mater Dei, and we are eternally grateful to those who support us.”

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