Families enjoy a change of scenery at Ecco Ripley’s free outdoor playgroup

Date: 6 October 2021

Kids from Ripley and surrounding suburbs are getting their hands dirty and connecting with nature as part of Ecco Ripley’s free outdoor playgroup.

Hosted by Flourish Children’s Collective and welcoming children from 12 months to five years, the playgroup sessions involve a range of experiences designed to engage their senses, and spark imagination and creativity in an outdoor setting.

Research has shown that being outdoors improves our health and wellbeing, lowers anxiety and depression, and can contribute towards a stronger immune system.

Founder of Flourish Children’s Collective, Emma Jordan, is a qualified early childhood teacher and has worked with young children in different capacities and countries for more than 20 years. She became particularly interested in nature play in 2016, before starting her business in 2019.

As a mum of two energetic sons, Emma said she found much of the offering for young children was indoors, overly structured and largely adult driven.

“I wanted to draw on my knowledge of early childhood teaching and child development to offer play opportunities that are child-led, encourage slowing down and connecting with each other, nature and like-minded families,” she said.

“While the benefits of nature play for children are far-reaching, there are also benefits for the planet. Human beings are more likely to protect and nurture what they love and have a connection with, so playing outdoors in nature, learning about our native flora and fauna, and appreciating its beauty is so important for the future of our planet.

“Children are encouraged to lead their own play and engage with resources such as sensory art, a mud kitchen and loose nature parts however they choose, giving them the freedom to just be, and play in a way that suits their needs and stage of development.”

The outdoor playgroup reinforces Ecco Ripley’s vision to provide opportunities to foster connections with nature, nurture health and wellbeing, and enrich the lives of its residents, including its youngest and most curious.

Emma said parents have shared positive feedback about the playgroup sessions and have enjoyed being outdoors with their children for a change.

“Many parents have mentioned they too have found playgroups are often inside so they value the opportunity to connect with their children outdoors. They also love learning new ideas for play that they can set up for their child at home — ideas they wouldn’t have thought of doing previously. Parents also appreciate that their children can engage in messy play and don’t have to clean up!” she said.

The outdoor playgroup will move to Spear Lily Park next term, offering new opportunities for children to discover the bush tucker trail, get amongst nature and explore local flora and fauna.

Outdoor playgroup sessions run every Friday from 10.30am–11.30am during the school term. Bookings are essential as numbers are limited.

For more information and booking details, please visit: https://eccoripley.com.au/free-outdoor-playgroup