Creating change through PEDAL: Play, Explore, Discover & Learn
PEDAL: Play, Explore, Discover & Learn
“PEDAL gives kids the confidence to walk through the school gate… we are walking on the journey with a lot of these families who are our most vulnerable and disadvantaged”.
– CentaCare’s Fund and Relationship Manager Emma Gosper
PEDAL – Play, Explore, Discover & Learn is an innovative early childhood program run by CatholicCare in the Diocese of Wilcannia-Forbes, which aims to support women, children and families trapped in cycles of disadvantage. Mary Ward International Australia (MWIA) has supported PEDAL for over two years providing funds to support the development of playgroups in remote rural communities of New South Wales. These communities which are made up of many Aboriginal families, experience significant disadvantage on many levels. These include: poor health, isolation, generational unemployment, lack of parenting role models, abuse, low levels of literacy and numeracy. PEDAL aims to help children under the age of five prepare for school by establishing playgroups across primary schools. These playgroups enable children to familiarise themselves with the school environment.
Empowering families and individuals in Australia is vital as poverty is very real in this country. While the overall health of Australians is improving, the situation for Indigenous Australians is dramatically different. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, Aboriginal people have higher levels of disease and disability and can expect to live up to 17 years less than the average Australian. This tragic fact is mainly due to unequal access to the resources and opportunities necessary for good health.
MWIA funds have enabled PEDAL to successfully provide for young families, allowing them to build their confidence and become involved in their local community.
Funds and Relationships Manager Emma Gosper says “this program gives kids the confidence to walk through the school gate… we are walking on the journey with a lot of these families who are our most vulnerable and disadvantaged”.
Experience indicates programs which achieve lasting change are those designed and delivered in consultation with Indigenous communities. As such, PEDAL has been developed to address the needs of the community. Emma knows firsthand the reality many of our rural communities face; “I think there is always a need, particularly at the moment there is a large number of vulnerable and disadvantaged families. When these children are starting off at school they are doing so at a greater disadvantage than the rest of the community. We need to help reduce the gap – that would be a great outcome throughout the communities.”