KinderGym For Families Experiencing Homelessness Melbourne Gymnastics Centre & Launch Housing
For the past three years, an inclusive KinderGym initiative has been taking place once a term at Melbourne Gymnastics Centre’s (MGC) Windsor location in partnership with Launch Housing.
The program is focused on establishing a family-friendly and inclusive hour-long KinderGym session for children aged one to five and their families who are or have experienced homelessness.
The playgroup was founded with only a set of two-year-old twins and has now grown to host eight to ten kinder-aged children once a term with their parent, carer or guardian/s also in attendance.
Melbourne Gymnastics Centre's Business Manager Aimee Royle, spoke to Gymnastics Victoria about the program.
According to Aimee the collaboration fell into place with Launch Housing operating their playgroup the same day their gym was free.
“It was fate as the playgroup met on a Thursday and that happened to be the one day our gym was closed for KinderGym and was available and free to use,” Aimee said.
Aimee expressed that the staff at Melbourne Gymnastics Centre are passionate about helping people with all different abilities and circumstances.
“We are passionate about providing movement to all persons to develop skills within and beyond the gym and this program allowed us to do so, supporting young people in a safe environment,” she said.
Having already worked with school-aged children and charities including Noah’s Ark, Artists for Kids Culture, Yooralla and the Salvation Army Domestics Abuse Services in previous years, MGC sought to assist early childhood development by making their KinderGym program more accessible.
“It was a great way for us to give back to the community, focusing on younger aged children; who we’ve never had the opportunity to provide gymnastics to in the past."
"Children develop so many skills at a young age and the opportunity for us to work with young families in the gym and teach them skills they can use in the future (for whatever their housing situation may be) has allowed us to assist in the physical development of these young children,” Aimee said.
Currently Windsor is the only Melbourne Gymnastics Centre location offering the Launch Housing collaboration due to MGC having exclusive access to facilities only at their Windsor location, however, they intend to operate the program for as long as possible.
“The biggest takeaway for us has been instilling in our team and our coaches how important fundamental development and physical literacy is for young people to develop a healthy and happy next generation,” Aimee said.
Gymnastics Victoria are proud of this partnership between Melbourne Gymnastics Centre and Launch Housing and congratulate them on being awarded the VicHealth Inclusive Initiative of the Year award at the 2019 Gymnastics Victoria Family Ball and Awards Night.
Story by Alex Renzella