Don Valley Primary School Nature Playground

We were looking for a good news story in the Yarra Valley and Kate from Don Valley Primary school sent us a message about how their school raised and built a brand new Nature Playground for their small school of just 40 students on just a very small budget.

Sign was made by Chris Hayes.

The story of how their Nature Playground came about started in in November 2019. The students at Don Valley Primary School held a Move-a-Thon Fundraiser. The students asked their family and friends to sponsor them to ‘move’ for 40 minutes without stopping. The students skipped, hopped, jumped, played tennis and completed an obstacle course without stopping for forty minutes. They managed to raise a whopping $2500 for a school with only 40 students.  

After the Move-a-Thon fundraiser students got together to talk about what they would like to do with the hard earned money they raised. After much deliberation, they decided they wanted to save the money and fundraise some more to build a nature playground.  Next, the students entered a competition organised by Eastern Alliance for Sustainable Living, where they drew and designed their dream nature playground. The teachers and parents researched all the different elements that the kids wanted to include, such as cubby house, bridge, tunnel, play kitchens and tee pees, stepping stones, dry river bed, giant rocks and more. 

The entry that won $3000

In February this year, participants at the EASL Sustainability Conference voted for their favourite future project. Don Valley students entry won and they received $3000 worth of prize money to put towards their Nature Playground. The kids, parents and teachers all now thought they had enough money to build the school a new dream nature play area.

So with that the school started to get quotes from several different landscapers but unfortunately all of the quotes come in at $20,000 or more which was way more than the school had to spend on their dream Nature Playground. They were all left very disheartened until Kelly Corrie who is one of the support staff at the school suggested that the school attempt to organise and manage the trades and materials themselves to build the playground. They knew it would require a lot of time and effort but they were all up for the challenge. 

This is the play area before the transformation.

They started off by approaching several local businesses and community members for donations of materials and support. They had a fantastic response from businesses, which allowed them to start the project and feel that they could actually achieve their goal of building their own Nature Playground.

They then spent many hours planning and coordinating all the businesses, parents and volunteers to get it completed in one day. As you can imagine that would not have been easy to achieve. It was a very busy day full of tools, machinery, team work, smiles and dedication all to build the kids at Don Valley Primary School the best Nature playground that they could. The parents and volunteers worked from 8am to 5pm. It was a very long day and there were many people and businesses that played their part in bringing this project to completion. Amazingly it all got done on the day which was an enormous achievement. The transformation was amazing to see.

The Nature Playground was finished and there was an amazing feeling of pride and achievement amongst all of the students, teachers, parents, volunteers and all those that had donated time and materials to this amazing project.  

What an amazing transformation.

There are many people and businesses and individuals to thank for helping bring this project to a successful conclusion. They are :

Yarra Valley Quarries – gravel for dry river bed

Mount Evelyn Men’s Shed – timber teepees

H & R Derix Fencing Contractors – retaining walls

Stephen Brunskill Asphalting – for the dry river bed

R & G Synthetic Surfaces ,Greg Mastertoun – synthetic turf

Michelle Garratt & Wandin Tree Services – for the mulch

Simmo’s Mud Kitchens – for the mud kitchen

Rocks Plus Bayswater – stunning pink mud rocks

Jeremy Derix – building the bridge

Chris Hayes – for the stunning, hand carved sign

Working Bee Volunteers

Richard Hack & Rob

Michael & Kelly Corrie

Kate & Matt Weston

Lachie Armstrong

Megan & Lincoln Wilson

Chris Hayes

Randall Taylor

Alison Scoble

Sandy Walter – for feeding us on the day

Mount Evelyn Men’s Shed provided the Teepees.

Also a huge thanks to Parks Victoria who donated an enormous concrete tunnel for the Nature playground. Special mention also to Richard & Rob who donated timber to make the stepping stumps and triangle archways as well as machinery and a lot of their time and ingenuity. There were other businesses that gave discounts on other materials and plants also. So many people and businesses were involved to complete this amazing community project with such a small budget.

Here at Yarra Valley News we just wanted to say well done Don Valley Primary School. It is such a great Yarra Valley news story and certainly is a very inspiring story. This story would never have happened if it wasn’t for two special ladies called Kate Weston and Kelly Corrie. Kate is a teacher and parent at the school and Kelly is a one of the education support staff. Together they organised and co-ordinated the whole project and gave it their all to make sure the kids got their dream of having their own amazing Nature Playground at their school, Don Valley Primary School.

Kate (Left) and Kelly (right), amazing effort you two.

This project encapsulated the wonderful community spirit and generosity at Don Valley Primary School and what can be achieved with a vision and a lot of hard work and dedication. The project was finished on June 27th just before lockdown so the kids haven’t had a chance to properly use it yet but hopefully this coming term they will be able to make full use of it.

If you would like to check out Don Valley Primary School here is a link to their virtual tour.

About Noelene Davidson

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