Volunteer story – Jean

Playcentre facilitator – I found my tribe

Jean has now attended Playcentre for over seven years.  She began her time at Playcentre as a first-time mum with a new baby. Like many women who have walked into Playcentre after taking what they thought was a short pause from fulltime work she has left very passionate about a future in a very different career, rooted in service, community, and empowering adults through education.

Jean says she found a community of like-minded parents and caregivers at Playcentre; A collection of passionate, intelligent, driven and committed people keen to create a rich learning environment for their tamariki:

“A place that accepted me and where I was at, with other mums who were seeking purpose and meaning in the monotony of at-home-parenting life. I found my tribe”.

Jean says she learned about the wonderful development and skills children were mastering in each of the different areas at Playcentre, from carpentry to imaginary play.  She says she gained confidence to get involved and have a go at all areas of play – and this “made me such a better mum”. She found the skills she learned such as; positive behaviour, child–led play, respecting play, and a credit-based model of the child are all values held true at home and at centre. They influenced her greatly and “steered our family choices with regards to other ECE, school and home life”. 

When I think of the benefits of volunteering at Playcentre I don’t think of the hours spent replying to emails or finishing assignments, I don’t think of the working bees, maintenance, or fundraising. These things need to get done (and yes, I have done lots of them!) but I think of what Playcentre has taught me about aroha, manaaki and whanaungatanga. I think of all the time I have spent making meals (and receiving them), driving independent children home from Playcentre (and receiving my own), buddying new members, and showing them the ropes (and calling my own buddy, which I do to this day, she is still one of the first people I turn to for advice!). I think of the gifts I have bought for new babies, bereavements, illness (and those I have received when I was in need). I think of Chinese New Year and learning to make dumplings on session, or Eid and sharing a meal to break fast with a friend, I think of Matariki and fires in the sandpit, and I think how lucky my children and I are to have learned and celebrated other cultures in such an authentic way for all these years.