Friday, April 23, 2010

Post-Conference Exhaustion

What an exciting and stressful week or so it's been...
The volano in Iceland created havoc for us - it meant our keynote speaker from the UK - Sue Gutteridge from PLAYLINK - could not get to Perth.
Our Sundowner at Kings Park on Sunday proved to be a fantastic way to start the formalities... although we were actually a long way from formal.
The weather for the sundowner was wonderful - the setting inspiring - the entertainment was fun - the talk about Naturescape was thought-provoking - all 'round terrific!!
Kicking off the conference, Marie Taylor welcomed us all to her country; the Minister for Community Services talked about her childhood and her children's, growing up playing in the outdoors and introduced What Kids Want: playgrounds and play spaces. The Department for Communities commissioned Filmbites Youth Film School to produce this short film in which some of our local primary school children express their views and perspectives about playgrounds and outside play. The film showed that our kids are able to articulate very clearly what they want in outdoor playspaces and it was good to have those views in our minds as we listened to conference presentations.
Some of the other highlights included...
Helle Nebelong dared us to think with a Scandanavian perspective.
David Smith shared more of his ideas about connecting children with nature.
Greg Grabasch talked about his work with Indigenous communities and their connection to country.
The restorative value of landscapes was discussed by Wendy Sarkissian.
Wendy also facilitated a workshop and spirited discussion in relation to reconciling the sometimes competing aspects of play opportunities for children and community safety in residential neighbourhoods.
Fiona Robbe, Catherine Lee and Gillian McAuliffe all presented great ideas in relation to providing nature based play opportunities.
Lianda Gibson gave us ideas for consulting with children.
Marie Martin challenged us to measure the quality of the outdoor playspaces we provide for children against our value frameworks.
Helle, Fiona and Gillian talked about the Nature Action Collaborative for Children and encouraged us to be awed by the wonder of nature.
Laurinda Jones, Jennine Primmer and Cheryl Greenfield showed us some wonderful examples of creative outdoor early childhood play environments.
But the highlight of the conference was certainly our wonderful WA icon - Bernhard Kaiser. Bernhard and his straight man, Terry Farrell, had the audience enthralled in between fits of laughter with their presentation. The hilarity of their presentation, however, did not detract from the extremely important things they had to say about the play needs of children of all ages. Bernhard & Terry certainly need to have more opportunities to share their knowledge and expertise.
Richard Louv's public lecture on Wednesday dovetailed nicely into the week's focus on outside play - so all in all it's been great.
Next week will be back to normal, but memories of the conference and all the interesting people I met will remain.

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