15 April 2020
The children of fire affected communities have endured a lot, so when the mobile Imaginasium loose parts playground visited Cobargo recently, local children went wild for it! For two weeks children had the exciting opportunity to explore and investigate this unique play experience and the result was whole hearted joy.
The Imaginasium is owned and operated by husband and wife duo, Lukas and Vanessa Ritson. Their Queensland based company, Wearthy, operates the portable Imaginasium which they take all around Australia. The Wearthy philosophy is “doing everything in our power to help all children flourish”, so Lukas and Vanessa wanted to donate this amazing experience to children in fire affected communities.
Loose parts play is a type of play that supports invention, divergent thinking, problem solving and offers a sense of wonder to children. It’s based on materials that can be moved, carried, combined, redesigned, lined up, and taken apart and put back together in multiple ways.
“We have been promoting loose parts play for many years as a valuable resource for children to be able to have their imprint and ownership of a space. The greater the imprint on a space the higher the value of the space to the child”, Vanessa said.
When children manage their own world they are learning to problem solve, think outside of the box, collaborate, be creative and be social. All these learnings give the child a true sense of accomplishment that creates the understanding that they are master of their own self-fulfilment. They also need to manage their own risk and safety, with research showing that a child exposed to risks they can see and manage will be able to manage their own safety better.
Council’s Recreation Project Officer, Glenn Merrick visited the Imaginasium to watch the wonder unfold. “I have to admit I was a little sceptical at first, he said. “However, when the doors of the Imaginasium opened there was great excitement as the loose parts were pulled out and dispersed around the playground in minutes. Given time and no involvement from adults, other than oversight, the kids began to create and it was quite amazing.
Mr Merrick said that, in the course of their play, the kids were learning design, construction, physics, team building, patience, risk management and much needed creativity while having a heap of fun. You can’t achieve all that in a conventional classroom setting or playground and definitely not on a screen.
“Anyone struggling to entertain children while isolating at home, take note. Given some space and a bunch of pipes, long sticks, ropes, tarps, pots and pans, boxes, wheels and other random items, kids will create, all you need to do is stand back and watch them go. I think we had opportunity to do that as kids, but everything is so manufactured now we have largely taken away the freedom and ability to be creative, and the satisfaction and confidence derived from creating something yourself, he said.”
“Cobargo families are filled with gratitude for the ongoing generosity shown to their beautiful community. Piece by piece they are rebuilding their world through fundamental play opportunities.”
“When a child is happy and fulfilled we are doing our job”, Lukas said. We hope to keep the Imaginasium in the Bega Valley for another two weeks, visiting the Quaama area next. However, current Government restrictions may limit the length of time the Imaginasium can remain here.