22 January 2021
‘Play it Safe’ a hit in Maitland
School holidays got a little bit more exciting recently for kids living in Hume Community Housing around Maitland when they enjoyed a variety of free activities that brought local community, friends and neighbours together, seasoned with some fun competition and education.
The ‘Play it Safe’ program, funded by Maitland City Council Community Grants, Youth Week and Hume Community Housing, saw kids get together to enjoy each other’s company and participate in many different activities – from juggling to learning footy skills.
The events, which covered a week in each area, were held in Woodberry (11-15 January) and Tenambit (18-22 January). Both included: Parkour, Circus, Bike Mechanic, Cycle Skills, plus footy and fitness. Scooter repairs was also provided at Woodberry.
“Hume operates in areas where a large number of kids live and we’ve noticed there isn’t a whole lot to do in the school holidays,” said Richard Hershman, Community Cohesion Officer at Hume’s Maitland Team.
“Play-it-Safe was about providing a range of free fun and engaging activities that would stretch kid’s ability and provide them with skills to manage risk. It also gets kids out of the house and socialising with others in their communities.
“We found that kids really enjoyed challenging themselves. And it was great to watch kids helping other kids. There was a real sense of achievement and friendship at the end of each day.”
Hershman reported that the cycle safety skills training at Tenambit had 15 kids freewheeling and learning about Road Safety with former Olympian Scott Steward. They also received free bicycle helmets painted with Aboriginal art from Transport NSW who donated 60 for the events.
Steward, who runs Cycling Skills Australia said: "It's was a great morning with a great bunch of kids. I think many of them will have learnt some valuable lessons about road safety today. They were all keen to do the right thing."
Katherine McLean, another Hume Community Cohesion Officer involved, said she also had positive experiences at the Woodberry event.
“At one of our events some older kids joined in. They were incredibly focused and learned how to take risks safely. They were also really supportive of other kids who were not so able.” she said.
One parent said her child usually did not like joining in on these types of activities, but this was different: “He usually prefers to stay at home playing PlayStation – but he has been really excited to come along each day and learn new things.”
“The kids particularly loved the Parkour training, which is military style obstacle course discipline and were happy to do the push ups when they got it wrong, then test their skills at climbing, jumping and showing strength,” continued McLean.
“For those who do not know what Parkour is, it basically is a way from getting from one point to another by way of running, climbing, swinging, vaulting, jumping, crawling and rolling – just what kids love and a great way to release some energy,” she said.
Hume, which has only been operating in the Hunter area for just over a year now.
“At Hume we really seek to engage with the community, not just provide housing. Community is all about getting to know each other and forming bonds so having events like this does help people to get to know each other,” both Hershman and McLean agreed.
Businesses involved in the events were: Facilitators involved Inc., Newcastle Parkour, Circus Avalon, Cycling Skills Australia, The Bikesmith (Bike Mechanic), Skateape (Scooter repair - Woodberry Only), and Mark Bale Sports.
Hume Community Housing provides homes and services to more than 9,000 customers across New South Wales. This includes 2,200 homes and around 4,000 customers across the Maitland and Port Stephens local government areas.
If you people are interested in hearing about future Hume events in Maitland and Port Stephens, please join Hume Community Housing’s Facebook page.
Bike riding and plate spinning at Tenambit