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BATEMANS BAY POST

MAY 30 2018 

Moruya mud cubby breaks new ground

by Kate Lockley

Moruya Public opens new play space

 

Moruya Public School is celebrating a groundbreaking success after the official opening of a mudbrick cubby house and inclusive play area. School captains Tilly Shorter and Ryan O’Meley cut the ribbon to the new playground feature on May 21 in front of their excited classmates.The space incorporates an obstacle course and musical instruments, designed to bring children of all abilities together to play – all thanks to the P&C, Uniting’s Ability Links and Mud Fun Australia. Principal Peter Johnson said students were quick to make the most of their new playground. “It is becoming a classroom and it’s like a safe, calm, relaxing, meditative place that kids can learn from,” Mr Johnson said. “It’s quite fascinating how it’s being used creatively by the kids and teachers.” Mr Johnson said incorporating play into children’s learning was essential. “Play, we don’t take seriously enough,” he said.
“Just being a child, right through to 12 years of age, having play – healthy, constructive play – like this area is here, all those areas help kids to learn, to get on with each other, to play happily and to learn about life through play. It’s vital.” Helping bring the project to life was artistic director David Mitsak of Mud Fun Australia. Work on the project began back in October 2017, when the first bricks were made at a musical mud stomp. Mr Mitsak said the Moruya cubby marked the first time such a project had taken place in a school.
“It’s really groundbreaking for the principal to get behind it and try something completely new, which is blending the construction sciences with the performing arts,” Mr Mitsak said.
“We want to take the successes of this and share it with other schools and other communities.” Uniting’s Ability Links provided more than half the funding for the project. Ability Linker Ann Murphy said the project was about community and learning, right from construction to completion. “(The space) is about imaginative play and feeling comfortable to explore and be yourself,” Ms Murphy said. “By having four new playground areas, it’s a chance to find your own space at your own time. “Some students who are told they don’t engage so much, you’d see them day after day down here very happy and saying ‘I could be a builder’, ‘I could be a designer’, “I could be a musician’. “That’s the whole ethos of what an inclusive playground should be.” Builder Dane Wilmott said it was an amazing experience involving construction students from Narooma in the project."

This multipurpose cubby structure (market day canteen, puppet show stage, outdoor classroom, general play space) was created with full school community participation as an initiative of the P and C. All students mixed traditional sun-dried earthen "mud" masonry recipes with their hands and feet to live music performed by students and musicians at musical mud stomps. Students participated in these events with their teachers during school and with their parents after school. The opening event took place down at the local markets and bricks were transported back once dry. Music was a central and key element to the project under the leadership of a musical director assigned to the job which included engaging other local professional muscians. The mud mixtures were used to made bricks and "cobs" to build and sculpt the walls. An artist was hired to sculpt decorative features into each wall. Handmade clay, milk and lime based paints were mixed onsite and applied by students, teachers and parents and others. The after school care centre was involved. High School students were also involved as part of their education and worked with the architect, builder, engineer, musical director and artistic director. Local businesses took up every available sponsorship opportunity to donate all the project's materials and their delivery.  The structure is a hallmark of environmental sustainability. The foundation was made with local stone and gravel. The walls were made of sun-dried earthen masonry mixtures, the roof frame was built with locally milled timber and the roof was made of Australian made tin with plastic and wooden insulation. The construction followed the BCA (Building Code of Australia) via a Master Builders Contract with the Assets Department of the NSW Dept of Education. Funding came from several different sources with different purposes attached to them. Besides the goal of building the structure there were educational and community engagement goals. Another major goal that was achieved was to include those with special needs and disabilities.