Children and staff at some of Central Otago’s schools and early learning centres enjoyed pop-up play sessions this week when Sport Otago and Sport Central staff visited.

Sport Central PE and play adviser Ella Brown said visits that included education facilities in Cromwell and Wanaka were a response to last week’s Nationwide Play Week Aotearoa.

Balancing act . . . Charlie Elder (4) practises her balance skills at Willows Early Learning Centre. PHOTO: TRACIE BARRETT

The Sport Otago team travelled from Dunedin with a trailer of loose parts play equipment to encourage children to explore and create their own games, Ms Brown said.

“Play is a vital component of a child’s physical, social, emotional and spiritual development.”

The sessions sought to ensure children understood how accessible play could be.

At Willows Early Learning Centre in Cromwell, the pupils were delighted to discover uses for the equipment on offer, whether it was bouncing on balls, balancing on blocks or chasing each other through a tunnel.

Full of bounce . . . Enjoying a pop-up play session at Cromwell’s Willows Early Learning Centre is McKenna Green (4). PHOTO: TRACIE BARRETT

Head teacher Sally Cameron said the centre was happy to “put our hands up” when Sport Otago offered the play session.

“With Covid, we haven’t been able to get out into the community,” she said.

“It’s nice to have the community come to us.”