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At play in Masterton

By Chelsea Boyle

[email protected]

For many kiwi families, playcentres play a big role in making sure kids are ready to start school.

And Westside Playcentre is no exception.

A team of families meet three times a week to care for a roster of 35 children and help them bake, paint, play and dress up.

It is one of the only a handful of playcentres left in Wairarapa after closures in Eketahuna, Featherston and Lansdowne.

At the helm of Westside Playcentre is president Anya Ogden, who first visited the playcentre as a three-year-old.

In those days, it was Mrs Ogden’s mother, Sherril Adams, who served as president.

Mrs Ogden said her mother credited the playcentre for a lot of her later success because it was a great way for parents to meet new people.

“It’s about community, and the friendships that develop between the children and the families,” Mrs Ogden said.

The key philosophy of the playcentre is that parents are the first and best educators of their own children.

It is about being flexible and supporting the interests of young children.

“Everything is child-led,” Mrs Ogden said.

It’s about making their ideas and inventions come to life.

“They have an idea of what they want to make and they just go for it.”

The activities should be accessible and stimulating for any child at any age, she said.

Mrs Ogden said the playcentre had to meet the same requirements as any other childhood provider to get government funding, and sometimes the time commitment to make it all work could be “challenging”.

“But when you believe in something, when you are passionate about it, you don’t mind coming in to do the gardening.”

She said it making parents feel like they are supported could renew the passion for playcentres.

“It’s not so much about the money, it’s one less pressure on our families.”

Recently Countdown has come to the party, supplying morning tea and baking supplies for the youngsters.

Mrs Ogden said they didn’t approach the supermarket, they volunteered and were even keen to put on a sausage sizzle at one of the latest family events.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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