“When they see the troopy coming, they all run over to that spot, shouting ‘playgroup time’ ‘playgroup time’. Those kids are always waiting on that day I am going to come.”
Chantelle Berringal is a local Walmajarri woman. She has worked at Marninwarntikura, running the Mobile Playgroup, since 2010. Every week she travels to four communities Bangardi, Mindirardi, Ngalingkadji and Ngurtawarta. She looks after children between 0 – 4 years of age, and engages with their families. The mobile playgroup is designed to be flexible and responsive to what the children and families want to do on that day. The playgroup is a point in the week when parents come together, to share stories and to have some calm while their children play. Importantly, the playgroup reengages families, and fosters a sense of collective care and responsibility for the children of the community.
Chantelle takes a variety of toys and activities for the children. Sometimes she will set them out within the community and the kids can play closer to home. On other days they will go to the river to fish and swim. Chantelle emphasises the importance of a local women being able to engage and work with local families and children. She can sit and yarn with the women without anyone feeling any shame. Through conversations, Chantelle can teach families of the importance of taking care of, and educating their children, and in turn she listens and learns from stories the families share with her. The playgroup gives the space and time to allow for the intergenerational sharing of stories and knowledge. The playgroup is laying the foundations for children to grow up in a happy and safe environment. Through nurturing creativity and safe childhood play these children are learning to be future responsible carers and inspiring educators for their communities.