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By Kyra Gillespie

Nine News presenter Peter Hitchener was the guest of honour when Lakeside’s Goodstart Early Learning Centre opened its new play space.
The Djeembana play space, which means ‘gathering place’ in indigenous dialect, has been redesigned to mirror native Australian wildlife, encourage sustainable education in the early years of learning, and offer a space for children where they can embrace nature and play-based learning.
Mr Hitchener began the Tuesday opening by reading The Snow Wombat by Susannah Chambers to the centre’s children.
He then took a tour around the facility.
“It’s absolutely marvellous, I’ve never seen anything like it!” he said.
“Can you imagine how amazing it would be if children had this sort of creative learning all the way through school?”
The yard features a mud patch, river bed, cubby house, viewing station, roaming sandpit, sensory indigenous planting and a community vegetable garden.
“We wanted to bring nature back to the children,” Senior Educator Kelly said.
The entire space was designed collaboratively with the children and families and put together by talented landscaper Luke Purchase.
“The kids said they wanted butterflies and birds, so we planted trees that will attract them. We also made sure to plant deciduous trees so that the kids can physically see how the seasons work,” said Centre Director Beth.
The Bunurong land council performed a welcome to country and smoking ceremony, followed by a speech and plaque unveiling by Mayor Brett Owen.
An African drumming performance wrapped up the day along with a barbecue, play and discussion time.
Goodstart hopes that the playspace will encourage the children to embrace the outdoors and carry their tactile learning experiences into their future years of education.

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