When people talk about YMCA Canberra OSHC @ Kaleen Primary, we want them to talk about our place in the community, and how we are working hard to establish our presence here.

Over the last year, we have experienced a massive transformation in terms of an increase of numbers resulting in a centre split, as well as a total staff turnover. Though staff and children have finally settled coming into 2019, the changes have been significant for us and for our Kaleen families, so we wanted the change to bring its own positive rewards.

Helen Keller once said “alone we can do so little, together we can do so much,” and we have found this through the Kaleen community, and boy oh boy do we do a lot together!

We began our transition into the community by developing a “Passport to the World” program at After School Care, where every week in 2018 we would ‘visit’ a new country and the kids would get a stamp in their personal passports and colour in our giant wall map!

We encouraged families to participate by teaching us about their home countries, whether it be in the form of traditional cooking, cultural dresswear, songs in different languages or ancient stories.

By learning about the cultures that live within our small community, we were able to better understand how to appreciate and respect each other, and allowed the children the chance to embrace their heritage with their peers. This program was an amazing stepping stone which lead the children to seek out opportunities to use aspects of their new global knowledge. We still host trivia tournaments and talent shows to showcase these skills, and families are always welcome to watch!

Once we knew more about the community and its people, we wanted to know more about the environmental landscape we found ourselves a part of.

We began taking regular walks through the Kaleen surrounds, each time exploring something new and exciting about the area. We found Treasure Dam, a place to dig up hidden crystals and precious gems, Goblin Tunnel, where a Goblin hides and tells riddles when you pass, and Ant City, a giant ant colony metropolis right in the heart of Kaleen! We would often encounter animal friends and want to learn more about them. Did you know that a group of echidnas is called a parade?

The children organised Clean Up Kaleen, where they went out into the community and picked up enough litter to fill multiple garbage bags! We encourage all of our kids to be Earth Warriors and help save the planet, and they love seeing a clean Kaleen!

Sharing philosophies with the school about culture and enviornment, we were welcomed with open arms by the Principal at Kaleen Primary, and he encouraged us to participate in the P&C, which opened many doors for us in terms of helping the school.

We love volunteering in the canteen and at any school events, whether it be counting coins for a sausage sizzle or making the decorations for a winter wonderland disco- we always have a ball!

For over sixteen years YMCA Canberra OSHC @ Kaleen Primary has been a very big part of the local community, and we look forward to finding new ways to contribute to it, belong within it and do more together!