Delta Kay, Byron Bay Arakwal spokesperson, works as a Aboriginal Family Support Worker with the Bunjum Aboriginal Cooperative in Northern NSW, Australia. She describes the phenomenal change in the behaviour of children when all the plastics were removed from playgroup and replaced with natural wooden toys and other natural materials at the launch of the eco parenting book series in Byron Bay in August, 2011.
“We packed away all the plastic and brought out all the wood and everything changed. Their children’s behaviour changed and I watched how the parents changed. Parents couldn’t believe their children’s behaviour by putting plastic away.”
In 2009 the Bunjum Aboriginal Cooperative, Ballina, Northern NSW, invited Jane Hanckel and the Inspir=Ed project to run a nine week parent education program along with a professional development program for Aboriginal health and early childhood professionals. Following a makeover of the playgroup room which involved throwing out old toys and equipment, painting the playgroup room a soft calming light pink and packing away all the plastic the parents and children were welcomed by the quite calming environment. Over the nine weeks parents and children learnt new parenting skills in a warm and supportive environment. As Delta describes, the changes in the behaviour of the children and parents was extraordinary. From running around and climbing the walls the children played happily and cooperatively with each other. The children and parents learnt new songs and foods to eat creating a stronger sense of connection to each other and the community.
The work with Delta, Bunjum and other communities was one of the inspirations for Jane to write ‘eco parenting – growing greeener children’. “I witnessed at Bunjum and other communities how by simply changing the environment by removing plastics and creating calm and nurturing spaces the relationship and behaviour of children and parents change. In a world where children are increasingly being medicated for dysfunctional behaviour, it is so important to look at the environments along with diet and lifestyle, before resorting to medical intervention.”
Jane Hanckel and Thanh Cherry, international Steiner Waldorf early childhood educator, run training workshops for health and early childhood professionals. Jane co-founded the Spirit of Childhood Foundation to run Inspir=Ed programs in communities across Australia.