Seedlings pilot a Sustainability Award winner

A PILOT program trialled in the Alpine Shire has been celebrated for its contribution to helping young families embrace a sustainable future.

Alpine Shire Council has partnered with Knox, Port Phillip, Melbourne and Yarra Ranges councils to trial the Seedlings Early Years Education for Sustainability Pilot through the Alpine Maternal and Child Health Service (MCHS).

Last week the program topped the Community category in the Premier’s Sustainability Awards held in Melbourne on Thursday, 2 October.

MCH Nurse Coordinator Dee McKerral said the service is incorporating sustainable practice into its core business.

“As part of the project we developed some Tip Sheets for families to encourage sustainability education in the home,” she said.

“These Tip Sheets were adapted by other municipalities in the pilot. They are designed to be given out at key ages, along with an introduction to sustainability in our First Time Parents Groups.

“We also have a Thought Provocation Wall set up at each of the three MCH centres, which demonstrate sustainable actions for families, such as moving from disposable to modern cloth nappies.

“A clothing exchange was set up at the Bright MCH centre, where children’s clothing could either be taken or donated and the First Time Parents Groups were encouraged to capture their ideas on sustainability education and measures in a floor book.”

The success of the program in Alpine was assessed through key milestones: “Sow the seed”, which emphasised promoting knowledge and understanding; “Grow the tree”, which emphasised participation, embedding and documenting; and “Nurture the forest”, which focused on connections and collaboration.

The MCH Seedlings program was awarded a second-tier “Growing” award for the “Sow the seed” milestone and top tier “Thriving” award for the final two milestones.

Ms McKerral said participation in the program helped staff gain a greater understanding of sustainability education and the role that MCH can play in helping families become more sustainable.

“We are thrilled to have contributed to the education of families in the Alpine Shire, demonstrating to them the amazing area we live in, the connection they have with the environment and ways to grow a sustainable family,” she said.

Seedlings has been funded by the Victorian Government’s Victorian Adaptation and Sustainability Partnership Program and the partner councils over three years.

Seedlings has developed and piloted an Early Years Education for Sustainability (EYEfS) Framework as a foundation for lifelong learning to empower children, families, early childhood professionals and the community to live more sustainably.

On Saturday, 16 August over 120 people from across Victoria gathered at Knox Civic Centre to celebrate the outcomes and successes of the program.

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