Making all the difference
FOR Peregian Springs Community Kindergarten director Nicole Koy it is hard to beat the look of sheer joy on parents' faces when their children with disabilities receive their first birthday party invite.
No Gold Lotto ticket could ever bestow greater riches, touch a deeper chord of gratitude than the feeling of acceptance and understanding of such an everyday gesture, that others might not grasp.
The staff at this C&K kindy, which includes assistants Jenni Muche and Natalie Taylor plus inclusion support assistant Julie Crockett, are out to make a difference in the lives of all the families they welcome through their front gate. And this shows on all who start their lifelong learning journey there.
The impact Nicole and her staff are having on the young lives of the more than 40 children who attend the two class groups has not gone without being noticed with the kindy named popular winners of the Excellence in Inclusive Practices Award at the C&K state awards in Brisbane.
This is professional recognition of their work in supporting children with special needs and ensuring practices which encompass dignity, equity and respect.
"This is the fourth year that we've been open and during that time there's been many children with some complex medical and developmental needs," Nicole said.
"And we've supported them so that they can access the kindergarten programs like everybody else. We've had children who are not yet walking at the age of four and who need assistance with feeding."
Nicole said at the other end of the scale they have also had "some very bright children who need support in the form of some enrichment".
"I guess what we're trying to do is look at the individual needs of children and support them to access our program.
"The other thing that we do is we teach all of the children about social justice. We actively teach them that some children are different, but that's okay ... you need to respect them.
"But we're also teaching all the children the importance of respect, empathy and kindness and we're really hoping that those are skills that they will take with them. We talk to their parents and we find out what their needs are. We work to support.
"Every year one of the most wonderful things that happens, it is the first time that child with a disability receives a birthday party invitation ... that is just such an amazing thing for their parents."
The kindy is having an open day on June 14 from 10-11.30am and families can come and play.
- PETER GARDINER