Photo: Marichka Eadie with son Andrew who enjoys the outdoor area and car collection at Yass Uniting Church Playgroup

Yass Valley families are welcome to join a local playgroup held every Friday from 9:30-11:30 at the spacious Yass Uniting Church Hall on Meehan Street opposite the Yass Hospital.

The invitation may be doubly welcome for parents and carers as school-based playgroups have not yet restarted this year due to the Department of Education’s Covid management restricting external visitors to schools.

Playgroup founder and coordinator for the past five years, Helen Poulton, is hoping to see some new faces this Friday.

“We would love people to come along to playgroup; it doesn’t matter if your baby is two months old or if you have a four-year-old,” Helen said.

Yass Uniting Church Playgroup coordinator Helen Poulton holding granddaughter Posy Poulton visiting from the United Kingdom

As former playgroup children have moved up to kindergarten, the group is relatively small. As a result, it can easily accommodate more families safely inside the hall for playdough, craft, and games, or outside in the enclosed courtyard for painting, sand, and water play.

There is a corner with lounge seating perfect for breastfeeding mums or sharing a storybook. There is also a toddler-friendly restroom with a nappy changing table.

Helen described the playgroup’s activities as relatively unstructured, with just a few regular routines.

“We share some fruit, have a story and some craft followed by more playtime, so it’s a great chance for the mums and dads to have a break and sit back and relax with a coffee together and have a good talk.”

Yass Uniting Church Playgroup coordinator Helen Poulton using puppets during Friday’s story The Three Billy-Goats Gruff

Helen Poulton started the playgroup five years ago in 2017. With the assistance of other church members, such as Suzie Graham, the volunteers have been welcoming families and helping to build a sense of community, particularly for those new to the area.

“We have grandparents and mums and dads come along; especially great that fathers can come with so many working from home at the moment finding it possible to work around as it’s only two hours at playgroup,” Helen observed.

Local mother of three Marichka Eadie said she and her children look forward to Friday playgroup.

“The kids are very happy to play, and we get some time to talk to other parents and share our experiences. Helen is amazing; she really knows how to deal with children, how to make them happy, how to entertain them. She reads stories, does crafts, and organises all the play areas. The kids love coming here, and we love coming here.”

Dress-up fun – Cleo Taylor, Sophia Eadie, Rosella Jones with Isaac Poulton in background

Marichka values the opportunity for her children to interact with other children.

“Communicating with other children, socialising with other children, they are getting to know their little mates while having a great time.”

The voluntary contribution encourages participation, particularly for those with several children.

“We just ask for three dollars per family, not per child, to cover the cost of the hall,” Helen advised.

Playgroup dates usually align with school term dates.

Jasmin Jones