By Ava Lawler, Chief Marketing and Communications Officer
One of the great joys in life is watching the face of a young child light up when sparked with delight and intrigue. Children are inherently in awe of our natural world, and yet in Australia, they are still taught about only a fraction of our native animals.
Australia is home to some of the most unique (and adorable) animals in the world and if we are to effectively conserve our precious wildlife, we need to foster a world where Australia’s biodiversity is valued and effectively conserved by an engaged community. Educating our children – from the earliest years possible – about our unique wildlife will inspire our new and emerging generations to care for our country.
Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) is proud to share news of a significant and exciting partnership with Affinity Education Group (AEG) that will engage young children in the wonders of our native wildlife. Affinity Education Group is one of Australia’s largest providers of early education and childcare with more than 220 childcare centres, kindergartens, preschools and Out of School Hours Care (OSHC) locations across Australia.
The ‘Aussie Wildlife Champions’ program has been co-developed by Australian Wildlife Conservancy and Affinity Education Group, bringing together a powerful combination of conservation and education expertise.
The educational program, designed for 3-to-5 year old children in the Affinity Education Centres, is currently being rolled out across the country as part of Affinity’s Lifelong Learning Curriculum. More than 2,400 Affinity educators have already been engaged with the launch of their Lifelong Learning Curriculum and the enthusiasm for the programs, including Aussie Wildlife Champions, is really exciting.
“In developing our Lifelong Learning Curriculum, we have been so pleased to partner with an organisation as well-respected as Australian Wildlife Conservancy,” said Dr Lesley Jones, Head of Education and Pedagogy for Affinity. “Together we have produced a very special program for young children. Raising children’s awareness of our unique Australian animals and their habitats and how we can all play our part in their protection is so important.”
Beyond the Kangaroo and Koala, there are a wealth of fascinating native animals that delight Australians of all generations. By leveraging the intuitive joy young children have for animals that ‘bounce’, ‘beam’ and ‘bite’ we can generate affection and educate them on the principles of biodiversity and conservation.
The Aussie Wildlife Champions program will excite children with videos, activities, and information on lesser-known animals such as the Quoll, Numbat, Bettong, Native Bee and Malleefowl and it will also share insights on some childhood favourites such as the Koala, Kangaroo and Crocodile. The series, which will be launched to the public in June, will also highlight the importance of biodiversity and the ways we can all help to conserve habitats and protect species.
The restorative impacts of our natural environment are widely documented, and this program aims to connect children to nature early. By encouraging an inquisitive approach to the natural world, we hope to provide a regenerative force for our young people while fostering a love, and care, for our Australian landscapes.
Environmental Education, for Kids
In addition to the Affinity childcare centre activities, four educational sets will be provided to the public via AWC’s Kids’ Corner and the AEG website.
Sparked by the delightful illustrations created by AWC’s talented in-house designer, Judy Moosmueller, the AWC Kids’ Corner brings to life the personality of some of our overlooked native species. Since launching in 2022, the AWC Kids’ Corner has grown in its representation of our unique wildlife with profiles for the Eastern Pygmy Possum, the Gouldian Finch and the Western Quoll, engendering affection for a broader range of Australian natives. We are continually adding new craft activities – including the recent launch of Bilby Ears for school Easter Hat Parades – and have plans for lots more educational videos too.
AWC’s early adventures into conservation education have attracted keen interest with over 17,000 views of our Kids’ Corner already. This immersive partnership with AEG will further boost engagement with young children, families, and educators and help ensure the next generation understands the critical principles of conservation and biodiversity.
Read and download the full issue of Wildlife Matters here.