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Nature is child’s play at St Raphael’s


An inner city Catholic primary school is doing its bit to put nature back in the picture and is even hoping that the sounds of frogs croaking might one day drown out the traffic noise.

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St Raphael’s School is located on busy Glen Osmond Road at Parkside but just inside the fence there is a new nature play space where children have planted native flora around a sandpit, water pump and bridge.

Students also had input into the design space, working closely with Simon Hutchison from Climbing Tree Nature Play and Design Consultancy.

“Three years ago I began working with the school to come up with a master plan and this is just stage one,” Mr Hutchison said.

“The students wanted a sandpit and they wanted wet sand – the ideas came from them.”

At the opening and blessing of the new nature play space by Fr John Curtis CP on the first day of term, St Raphael’s principal Mia Harms thanked the Parents and Friends Association and all those who had attended fundraising events to help build the new play area.

APRIM Jamie Mulcahy read from Pope Francis’ Laudato Si’ encyclical to remind children about the need for everyone to take responsibility for caring for the Earth.

Jeremy Gramp and Steve Walker from the NRM with Year 5 students Hannah Erwin, Chloe Buttfield, Edwina Read and Angel Mishra who helped create the frog pond.

The school’s new frog pond, which received a small grant from the Natural Resources Management (NRM) Adelaide and Mt Lofty Ranges, was also opened.

NRM Education Officer Steve Walker said St Raphael’s was one of a number of Catholic schools involved in the program.

While it was difficult to predict when frogs would take up residence in the pond, Mr Walker said All Saints Catholic School at Seaford had a frog turn up within an hour of its pond being completed. Another primary school located on a busy city road had frogs moving in within three years.

“If you build it they will come,” Mr Walker said. “You will hear the beautiful sounds of frogs.”

Mr Mulcahy said the ecological planting day held on September 18 had been a great success.

The idea was for the children to have ownership of the area, help care for it and be immersed in nature at the same time as having fun.

“Research shows that nature brings the best out of children.

“When children are playing in the new St Raphael’s nature play space, the hope is for the students to connect with others, help each other, share their learning and solve problems together.

“Children involved in regular outdoor play improve their gross motor skills, flexibility and eliminate stress.”


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