When gastro and innovation collide!
It was late at night, we had flown into the Gold Coast for a conference, at which I was a guest speaker, when we got the call… “We have had a number of families ring and say their kids have come down with gastro.”
It felt like my heart hit the floor.
I felt sick. I felt for families who were experiencing gastro…no one enjoys gastro.
Worry filled my heart as I knew that some children already had health issues.
My heart was heavy for the carrier. The family who had carried the virus into the centre and who didn’t know how to handle it.
As I listened to my staff, my heart went out to them. I knew they would be staying back late to clean and sanitise and I couldn’t help.
I felt so far away.
Do I cancel my speaking engagement and come home?
We had spent that day with innovators in the child play space, thinking about how we could innovate Kids Paradise.
I was filled with excitement, my mind churned with possibilities but I was also filled with fear.
12 months ago we began to imagine some different things for Kids Paradise. We had begun a journey away from the adrenalin oriented play equipment.
…Kids Paradise encouraged free play…where imaginations ran wild and whimsy found expression. (FREE PLAY)
…We had staff who could encourage children to play, to share, to imagine, to interact, to guide children in play. (GUIDED PLAY)
…We had some play workshops which helped children explore play they had never imagined before. (WORKSHOP PLAY)
Children don’t work. Children play, and play is how they learn.
They play wherever they go — in the car, in a grocery store or at school. In play they find the art of finding. They seek information from whatever they can get their hands on. Through the eyes of a child a storage box becomes a car; a vacuum cleaner can become a tractor.
Flying into the Gold Coast our imagination was exploding. Months of thinking and planning were coming together but I was filled with apprehension.
For months I had been vacillating, wondering do I or don’t I?
It’s scary taking the plunge, investing resource. What if it doesn’t work?
Then the gastro bug hit and I knew we needed to change.
Gastro and innovation had collided.
Here’s some of our innovations. I hope you like them.
They will take time to implement but this is our blueprint.
Staffing in Kids Paradise.
By June from 9am – 3pm there will be staff in Kids Paradise. The current library will be relocated and this room will be turned into a staff room to allow staff greater access to Kids Paradise.
The role of staff will be to:
a) Help your child with free play. This includes helping children with sharing, being kind and packing away after themselves.
b) Help with guided play.
c) Run play workshops.
d) Be there for you.
2. Eating zones will be confined.
Children will not be able to snack and drink throughout the playground. There are too many health risks for this to continue.
There will be three eating zones:
- The birthday party rooms upstairs
- The lounge area downstairs
Again we ask you not to bring food into the centre as this contaminates the environment and can make it an at-risk venue. If we don’t sell the food your child needs then please let us know.
3. Youth Zone will be developed.
We will be removing the inflatables and just bringing them out for special occasions. There are many reasons for this but the main reason is feedback given to us by children themselves.
The area where the inflatables currently are will become a youth zone.
4. The HUB zone will be developed
This may take a bit longer as we are hoping to bring in some new play products and these have to be sourced from overseas. In the meantime watch this space because there will be lots of interactive things happening in the mezzanine area.
5. The Lounge area downstairs will be developed.
Downstairs will be warmed up. We want to create spaces where you can enjoy life at the table with greater ease. Our hope is that in the summer months we can enjoy all sorts of family events in this space.
6. An Art space will be developed downstairs.
We will be creating an art space down stairs for children to explore the wonder of creating.
7. Workshops will be provided.
At the moment we have workshops on Tuesday – Friday every week but once we have hired and trained staff this will continue over the weekend.
Our current workshops include:
Tuesday: Little Bakers Class – where kids can explore the wonder of cooking with nutritionist Abby Cullen.
Wednesday: Play group day – where kids can explore the world of relationships; craft, singing and storytelling.
Thursday: Ditch and Stitch day – where you as a parent get to do your craft and we take the children and do a craft with them.
Friday: Create day – where kids can explore the world by creating.
8. Cafe access to Kids Paradise.
There will be some changes in accessing the cafe. This will be a major renovation and we will need to time this when things are quieter.
9. Softer quieter music.
You will notice that music will change throughout the playground. It will be child friendly but it will be quieter, more relaxing.
10. This is a big hope and longing of mine…To one day only serve healthy food.
I would love our centre to be free of food that makes our children unwell. I get every child needs a treat but one day my big hope is that food will nourish and not strip away a child’s vitality. This will be a long term goal.
I really hope you will like the changes.
A little more color, a little more whimsy, a little more connection…
Children running barefoot without a single care or concern.
It is hard to imagine that life could ever have been so pure and simple, so full of happiness and imagination.
Childhood is such a magical, whimsical part of life… we don’t want to hurry it or shorten it…
It might feel silly at first, putting aside life helping your child pursue the things that help them come alive and have fun. I think the more we can encourage kids to have fun for the sake of having fun the more they will be able to connect with what is in us and what is around us.
I hope you will come and have a play.