Newcastle Councillor Carol Duncan and Sarah Corrigan from Rainbow Crow Cultural Collective with Wayapa Babytime participants (front) Svetlana and Danny (6 months), Fon and Noah (6 months), Anh and Matilda (5 months), and Tamara and Rumi (9 months). Picture: Supplied
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New early literacy program aims to connect kids to culture

Indigenous perspectives on early learning are the focus of an innovative new literacy program currently being trialled in Newcastle.

A collaboration between Newcastle Libraries and Rainbow Crow Cultural Collective, the free Wayapa Babytime and Storytime programs are delivered by qualified Aboriginal health practitioner and cultural consultant Sarah Corrigan and approximately 20 families are currently taking part in a booked-out trial running at the City Libray throughout March.

Sarah said the program introduced parents to Aboriginal ways of learning, showing them how they can use easily accessible household and natural resources to stimulate their child’s development.

“Wayapa connects everyone, regardless of background or age, to Indigenous Australians’ deep, spiritual connection to Country,” she said.

“For children, the natural environment is the best playground and for parents, it’s the cheapest. Wayapa offers a way for parents, aunts, uncles, siblings, grandies and carers to use the natural environment as a starting point for sensory play.”

Sarah added that the collaboration was a great way to highlight the value of Aboriginal culture.

“The collaboration with Newcastle Libraries has been a wonderful opportunity share and show the strength and value of Aboriginal culture with everyone,” she said.

“It makes me happy that the families who come along are growing up bubs and little ones who will have a greater respect and understanding of First Nation Australians’ beliefs and culture. The future generations will hopefully be able to walk together to care for Country in partnership.”

Wayapa Babytime provides an opportunity for carers to slow down and connect inwards with themselves, their baby and the environment, while Wayapa Storytime uses storytelling, movement and nature-based craft to introduce children to Aboriginal-based earth mindfulness, promoting sustainability, connection and community.

Councillor Carol Duncan welcomed the initiative as an important addition to Newcastle Libraries’ suite of literacy programs.

“This program will help embed Aboriginal perspectives into our early literacy programs, providing an opportunity for Indigenous and non-Indigenous families to experience cultural connections and early learning experiences in a welcoming and inclusive space,” Cr Duncan said.

Wayapa Babytime provides an opportunity for carers to slow down and connect inwards with themselves, their baby and the environment, while Wayapa Storytime uses storytelling, movement and nature-based craft to introduce children to Aboriginal-based earth mindfulness, promoting sustainability, connection and community.

A four-week term will begin at Wallsend Library, with bookings opening in early April.