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Award winning Bush School replaces blackboards with bush tucker

2 May 2017 – Media Release

Cumberland Council Bush School has received a Highly Commended Award at the 2017 Local Government Awards for “Excellence in Community Development and Services”.

The Bush School was established in 2016 with funding from Cumberland Council and the Australian Government. Rather than build another playground, Bush School attempted to give young residents something else: the great outdoors.

The ‘school’, a landscaped corner of Central Garden, Merrylands West, is the perfect place for children of all ages, to experience and explore nature with their families and friends. It includes textured boulders, native plants and ‘Bush Tucker’ gardens.

The innovative approach has not gone unnoticed, with Bush School recently winning a Highly Commended Award at the 2017 Local Government Awards for “Excellence in Community Development and Services”.

Cumberland Council Interim General Manager Malcolm Ryan congratulated the Council staff involved for their win at the Local Government Awards.

“Council is delighted that Bush School is getting the recognition it deserves,” Mr Ryan said.

“With more children in our area growing up in units and flats without backyards, it is important that Council provides accessible green spaces. Our award winning Bush School seeks to help young children get outdoors and back into nature.

“Playing in nature is serious work for little children. It helps them develop physical and social skills, problem solving and creativity; as well as supporting their emotional well-being and self-esteem.

“There is a growing body of evidence that suggests the more time children spend in nature, the happier, healthier and more focused they are. Council wants to make sure this is accessible to all our residents.”

Bush School provides hands on opportunities for environmental learning at the same time as high density living and the decline of traditional backyards is making outside play increasingly remote.

Children’s Services have started to take excursions to Bush School from neighbouring Education and Care Centres. Bush School’s close proximity to the Wildlife Park at Central Gardens means young children are also able to interact with wildlife as part of their playtime.