Garden for all the senses

MURRA Gadi is the name of the new all-inclusive play area unveiled at Queanbeyan Public School this week.

The name means "pathways for searching" in the words of the Ngunnawal people and is fitting for the play area which has been designed to simulate the five senses and recognises the original occupiers of the land.

The school's assistant principal for special education, Carolyn Watt, said she was pleased to officially open the garden during a week where the school recognises the International Day of People with Disability.

"We've created an inclusive garden for kids with disabilities and our mainstream students to be able to play together and be safe," she said.

"It's designed to appeal to the different senses as well as provide that cultural perspective. We've used native plants, created a meeting place and incorporated the local traditions of the area."

The new facility was primarily funded through the Murrumbidgee Catchment Management Authority and is estimated to have cost at least $20,000. Many local community groups volunteered their time to help create the garden and keep costs down.

It includes musical instruments including a drum and chimes, touch and cultural poles, a storytelling chair, sand pit, meeting place circle, deck and hammock that students with physical disabilities can also enjoy it.

"We had a lovely garden on that site before with our demountable classrooms that was established by the previous teachers. However once the demountables were removed and our new classrooms built it needed to be revitalised," she said.

"We wanted a space that was more than just straight grass, we wanted to have somewhere the kids could explore and engage with the environment. Often kids with disabilities don't know how to deal with just an open grass area."

Queanbeyan Public School currently has about 30 students with disabilities enrolled. They range from students with learning disabilities through to those with significant high support needs.

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