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District launches Jarjums Connections Program

Children learn about Aboriginal culture through movement and storytelling.

SydneyConnect Video: Children at Garfield Street Children’s Centre in Five Dock are participating in a pilot of our Jarjums Connections Program

Children are learning about Aboriginal culture through movement and storytelling, thanks to a new program that's being piloted in early childhood education and care services by Sydney Local Health District.

The eight week Jarjums Connections Program links children to three Aboriginal cultural totems - the burra (eel), wirriga (goanna) and gawura (whale) - through a storybook, culturally adapted yoga poses, music and art.

"Being involved in this program has been a gift to us. It fits with what we would like to do in embedding Aboriginal perspectives in our curriculum," Maria Walsh, the Director of Garfield St Children's Centre in Five Dock, said.

"I've been able to see lots of benefits with the children. One of them now wakes up every morning and does the waking wirriga yoga pose. That's amazing."

The program, which was officially launched during NAIDOC Week, was developed by Nadia Levett from the District's Health Promotion Unit in partnership with the Aboriginal Health team, a children's yoga specialist, early childhood educators and local Aboriginal community.

"It has been exciting to create a program for early childhood educators which gives children across the District an opportunity to enhance their learning about Aboriginal culture through storytelling and movement," Nadia said.

During the pilot, services have been provided with The Gawura, Wirriga and Burra Stories on Country storybook, which shows children demonstrating a series of yoga inspired poses.

Alysse Di Natale, an early childhood teacher and the founder of Young Yoga and Meditate with Friends, provided expertise about the yoga poses best suited to children.

"The opportunity to have children involved in the project and seeing them demonstrate the poses in storybook just lights me up. We've been able to bring that sense of being, that sense of community and connection to the children," she said.

The Jarjums Connections Program resource kit also includes an early childhood educator book with weekly lesson plans and activities, a dreamtime meditation, handmade wooden clap sticks, flags, yoga spot mats and smooth river stones for painting.

"It's an example of Aboriginal culture and yoga coming together to benefit young people and their health and wellbeing. Mental health care is a key focus of projects we're undertaking in our community," Ricky Lyons, the District's Deputy Director of Aboriginal Health, said.

The program is also being piloted at Roselands Early Learning Centre and Wununbiri Preschool at Alexandria.

"We'd like to offer the program to all early childhood education and care services and family day care providers participating in the Munch & Move program and being supported by the team of Early Years Health Promotion Officers.

Jarjums Connections will culturally enrich and complement the Munch & Move program active play materials. So, it's a really exciting future for the project," Helen Dirkis, the Health Promotion Unit's Early Years and Youth Program Manager, said.