Food Access Networks Mornington
Victoria | Regional
The Festival of Mud was an inter-sectoral collaboration conducted during April 2016. This included outdoor play activities for parents and children, as well as a school holiday program which was nature-themed. Activities included Mud Play, Recycle Craft Storytime, Parkour, Cubby Building and Nature Crafts. In addition, the program provided professional development activities for educators and support for children’s facilities to create nature play activities. School and early childhood facilities engaged in mud play, with some installing mud kitchens.
The project aimed to increase appreciation of outdoor play, as well as to enhance the council’s capacity to promote outdoor and nature play. It was informed by the 2014 ‘Active Unley – Sport and Recreation Research Project’ which included extensive community consultation and indicated the need for Council to actively pursue these play opportunities.
Council has agreements with 5 x DECD schools to enable community use of the spaces after school hours. Council actively work with schools on the design of their spaces, encouraging them to consider nature play options. They also consider how nature play and green infrastructure can be incorporated into Council owned spaces, as funds are made available through their asset replacement program.
An evaluation was undertaken following each event and whilst a variety of methods to capture feedback (relevant to the event), consistent questions were used. Over 750 people engaged in the different events, and over 4,000 people of all ages attended the ‘Mud Central’ event in late April 2016. A Facebook page was set up for the event, which attracted the majority of feedback, however, 55 responses to a survey were received.
A summary of feedback is as follows:
The information, networking and professional development provided through this initiative will facilitate use of community settings for free nature play. Mud kitchens in schools and kindergartens will be available for ongoing use and Council will continue to support free nature play in community settings. Evidence from DECD primary schools in the City of Unley alone indicates that four schools have recently or are planning to develop nature play areas and are implementing nature, mud and ‘loose parts’ play into student learning.
The Festival of Mud had a budget of $10,000, and involved over 200 hours of staff time across the nine partner agencies.