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Playcentre goes the extra mile for the kids

Playcentre goes the extra mile for the kids

This week 46 Playcentres in Christchurch and across Canterbury are taking tag to whole new level in what is undoubtedly The Greatest Game of Tag. This epic venture plots out the story of Playcentre, while celebrating community and kiwi spirit.

Participants are travelling 650 kms - some on foot, some on wheels, and some on water - and stopping at 46 Playcentres on the way for a play, refreshments, and to celebrate Playcentre.

Playcentre has been advocating play and supporting parents as first teachers for 76 years. This parent-led early learning service is unique to New Zealand: there is nothing quite like it in the rest of the world.

The latest research on brain development and learning all points in the same direction: children who play hard will study hard. We also know that children whose parents understand how children learn and play early on become lifelong advocates for their children’s education.

In spite of Playcentre’s long and rich history, there are still Kiwis who don’t know about it. The Canterbury Playcentre team decided to change that and raise the profile of Playcentre with The Greatest Game of Tag.

The campaign is steered by Anna Steel. ‘I was inspired by Mal Law’, explains Anna. ‘He covered a total of 1659 kms, climbing over 50 peaks in 50 days, while raising funds for the Mental Health Foundation’. Anna acknowledges that The Greatest Game of Tag is ‘ very bold and a little crazy, but Playcentre people are an adventurous lot!’

Playcentre is about community and The Greatest Game of Tag has pulled many communities together, playing and supporting one another along the way. A wonderful example of this is Total Traffic Management, who have donated their time and resources to keep the walkers, runners and bikers safe on the road. ‘We could never have pulled this enormous event off without their generous support’, says Anna.

A beautiful korowai is accompanying Playcentre whānau along the journey. Crafted by Jacqui Wadsworth, a Kaikoura Playcentre parent, and blessed by Brett Cowan from Ngai Tahu, the korowai is going from Playcentre to Playcentre, touching the shoulders of Playcentre whānau along the way. It will eventually find its way to Waiau Playcentre, as a symbol of aroha for the families after they lost their building in the 7.8 Kaikoura Earthquake of November last year.

The Playcentre team also decided to use this opportunity to pay it forward and are fundraising for Variety, the charity for children. Variety support the 1 in 3 Kiwi kids who go without the basic essentials, such as warm bedding, school uniforms and stationery. They help those children who miss out on taking part in after-school activities, bike riding with friends, or going on school camps with the rest of their class.

The Greatest Game of Tag will finish at 12.00pm on Saturday 18 March with a sausage sizzle and ice cream at Akaroa Playcentre. Everyone is invited!

The Total Traffic Management crew can be found on and at 187A Ohoka Road, Kaiapoi, New Zealand.

You can also donate to Variety here:

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