By Derek Schlennstedt
Students at Mount Dandenong Primary School now have more inclusive outdoor spaces where they can meet and play.
Minister for Education James Merlino opened the new area on 15 December alongside local Aboriginal Elder Murrindindi who performed a smoking ceremony.
The new space has been aptly called ‘Wominjeka,’ which means welcome in the Woiwurrung language.”
Mount Dandenong Primary School principal Mike Leonard thanked those involved including Kate Ray who was instrumental in the school applying for the grant.
He said that the new space had turned a ‘tired’ worn out looking area into an area where all students can come to relax.
“We had an outdoor play space, which was a bit tired … it had a few portables there which had been taken away for other schools and left a big open gravel space that was unappealing and not really useable,” Mr Leonard said.
“Now we have this passive area where kids can do imaginative play, hang out … it’s a nice relaxing calm environment to be in, and students with physical challenges have access to it.”
The school received $200,000 from the Labor Government as part of the Inclusive Schools Fund which focuses on creating spaces that consider the needs of students with disabilities.
The new space includes a community garden, a wood-fired oven and outdoor kitchen, an exploratory play space for children who want to play but not with a sports focus as well as passive spaces for quiet play and access ramps.
Mr Merlino said it was wonderful to see students of any physical stature given the chance to use the new space.
“It is wonderful to see this important outdoor area created at Mount Dandenong Primary School so that all students can enjoy these creative spaces for both learning and for play,” Mr Merlino said.
“Our government is working hard to create an environment in our schools where all students feel a sense of connectedness and where all students can participate on the same basis.”