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Research Highlights Playcentre's Community Role

Research Highlights Role of Playcentre in Communities

New Zealand Playcentre Federation 23 February 2006

The New Zealand Playcentre Federation (NZPF) today welcomed the release of a study by Massey University into the social capital that participation in Playcentres provides to New Zealand communities.

The research finds that Playcentre is often the main social contact for new parents and that it acts as a source of support for them. In addition, Playcentre contributes to parents’ confidence and willingness to take on new challenges. Significantly, the research also finds that in many areas, the Playcentre is the primary physical and social centre of the community.

“We have known for a long time that Playcentre plays a major role in community-building, and in supporting new parents,” said NZPF Education Convenor Viv Butcher. “It’s important, however, for us to have the research to verify it. Most people in New Zealand are aware of the excellent job Playcentre does educating children; the role that we play for adults isn’t so well known.

“Playcentre was founded with the dual aim of educating children and supporting parents, and we feel that that second role, supporting parents, is particularly important in today’s society. It can be very isolating, being at home with young children, especially now when extended family and other traditional support systems are less available to new mothers.”

Playcentre continues to develop programmes to support families, including the SPACE (Supporting Parents Alongside Children’s Education) programme for parents of new babies that was recently released nationwide.

“We’re also pleased that the research shows our importance in community-building,” said Mrs. Butcher. “Playcentres are often the hub of a community, helping to hold it together and bring adults in contact with each other. These networks are long-lasting and benefit the whole community.”

The research also found that Playcentres had a social leveling effect, bringing together adults from many areas in society, and exposing them to issues of equity, diversity and bi-culturalism that they might not otherwise encounter.

The research was commissioned by the New Zealand Playcentre Federation and carried out by Massey University.

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