Award in the hand for time spent in the bush

Well done . . . Keep Dunedin Beautiful co-ordinator Allison Wallace and Otago Childcare Centre children celebrate the centre's Keep Dunedin Beautiful award. PHOTOS: JESSICA WILSON

A Dunedin education centre is winning awards for looking after the environment.

Otago Childcare Centre was presented with its Keep Dunedin Beautiful award on Tuesday.

Keep Dunedin Beautiful co-ordinator Allison Wallace said the centre was nominated for the work it had done in the town belt with the Town Belt Kaitiaki.

The centre’s head teacher Sonya Jephson said the children loved spending time in the bush.

“We could see there was a piece of land that we could use as another learning space for our children,” she said.

It was heartening to have the work they did in the community recognised.

The children picked up rubbish, did some planting, identified birds and used tracking tunnels to see what kind of predators were around when they were not there.

“It just looks loved and engaged and the children are learning so much about what it is to be caretakers,” Ms Jephson said.

“It’s a great opportunity for us to give back to the community.”

They were excited to be back in the town belt for the first time after the Covid-19 lockdown and see what had grown.

The Keep Dunedin Beautiful award was not the only recognition the centre has received – it also won a New Zealand Beautiful mural competition.

Education centres submitted their designs for a mural at their facility, which were then voted on by the public.

Ms Jephson said the mural featured iconic Dunedin features, such as the Roslyn tram and St Joseph’s Cathedral.

“We were so lucky that we have a parent who is an artist and she could make the concept happen.”

The centre won $750 worth of Resene vouchers so the mural could be painted.

The mural had become a talking piece in the community and people often stopped on their way past to have a look at it, she said.

It was officially unveiled in March, the same day as the centre’s new playground was opened.