“It feels like a second home.”
That is how Ashleigh feels about the Papakura Supported Playgroup, where she takes her 15-month-old daughter Hannah up to four times a week.
“I started coming after the Plunket Nurse told me about it and thought it would be good for me to go along as I was at home a lot of the time and feeling overwhelmed with Hannah.
“I felt welcomed, so I started coming more - I just want the best for Hannah.”
Ashleigh walks to the playgroup and has become a regular as it offers freedom, space, fun and support.
The Papakura playgroup is one of seven supported playgroups opened by Plunket in 2017, funded by the Ministry of Education and aimed at increasing participation in Early Childhood Education in communities where participation is low.
Playgroup Co-ordinator Natalie Owen says the group is very valuable in the Papakura community.
“We are trying to reach kids in the community that aren’t enrolled in any type of early childhood education, and the parents as well, as it’s easy to just stay at home and not do anything. The kids who come to the group get lots of learning opportunities and the mums enjoy socialising and being a part of the community.”
This term the playgroup has been doing activities associated with colour, and Natalie is busy making a planter box so the children can next plant their own vegetables and learn about healthy food options.
Ashleigh says she has made friends through the playgroup, gained confidence and recommends it to other mums.
Jody-Lee Gilbert learnt about the playgroup on social media and has been attending with her six-month-old son, Alexander, for three months.
“I was getting a bit bored at home and needed some socialising for me and Alex, so we thought we would come along and check it out.”
Jody-Lee says it’s a welcoming environment and she has enjoyed the interaction with other mums.
“There’s another little girl about the same age as Alex, so her mum and I are going through the same stages – it’s good to get ideas on what she’s doing with her daughter and try them, especially being a first time mum.”
The Papakura Supported Playgroup is open Tuesdays to Fridays from 9.30am to 1.30pm and is located in the Redhill Community Centre. Plunket runs about 160 playgroups throughout New Zealand. To find the group nearest you, visit www.plunket.org.nz.
28 June 2018