​Arriving in a new country with a different culture can be both exciting and challenging. Mailboxes look different, the sounds and smells are unfamiliar and the food and produce in the shops does not resemble what you are accustomed to.

Living a healthy, active lifestyle in a foreign environment is a challenge that locals easily underestimate. The high density built environment of Singapore is vastly different to that of a remote village in Afghanistan and to suburban Melbourne. Each poses very different risks and opportunities that can take long to get used to as people settle into a new life abroad.

Supported multicultural playgroups are one way in which we help especially young parents from overseas find their way in our community. “It is our role to show safe ways of active play for children and help familiarise parents and children with healthy local foods to assist with the transition to a new but healthy diet,” says Bronwynn Jursik, Families and Children’s Services Team Leader at South Eastern Community Connect. “What makes up a healthy active lifestyle in Bolivia will be quite different to what you’ll do to achieve the same thing here”, she adds.

To help overcome these challenges SECC in partnership with Junction Neighbourhood Centre, the Deli Women and Children’s Centre, Botany Family and Children’s Centre and Multicultural Health, has revised a manual for Supported Playgroup facilitators to give advice and support for young families especially from Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Backgrounds.

“Healthy and Active Kids in a Multicultural Supported Playgroup” has a wealth of information and practical advice for playgroup organisers to include diet and exercise education in their program.

There is detailed information on how to plan snacks for playgroup, how to set up the eating area, handouts for parents, cooking demonstrations and active play activities.


The manual has been prepared by four organisations whose staff have already be trained to deliver the program in their own playgroups.

​Active play is important for the development of the child’s gross and fine motor skills. Like with so many other skills it is in the early years, when brain and body grow rapidly, that foundations are laid and the most incredible developmental leaps are made. Babies, toddlers and young children need safe and challenging active play opportunities for a number of benefits: Confidence, social skills, balance, coordination and strength, fitness and concentration all benefit from active play.

​“The new manual is wonderful resource, but half of its benefits are in how the program is delivered. We have developed a training program for our staff that will give them the capacity to get the most out of this manual for their playgroup families”, Bronwynn explains, “Our staff are the ones who build relationships with the children and their parents, and they are the ones who can really turn this resource into a life changer for the families.” 

Read on for some sample recipes and play ideas!​

Sweet potato balls


Food processor / stick blender, measuring cups and spoons, cutting board, bowls


  • – 3 small sweet potatoes
    – 1 cup desiccated coconut
    – 1 cup pitted dates
    – 1 cup rolled oats
    – 1tsp ground cinnamon
    – 1tsp vanilla extract
    – Desiccated coconut to garnish


  1. Prebake potatoes for 30-40 minutes until very soft. Cool for 30 minutes.
  2. Children help measure all ingredients into the bowl.
  3. Process all ingredients until smooth and well combined.
  4. Turn dough out onto a clean cutting board and divide into small portions. Children roll their own balls.
  5. Chill in the freezer for 10-15 minutes until cool.​

Ants on a log!

Ants on a log
Equipment: Grater, chopping board, knife, spoons, plates, measuring cups


  • – 8 long celery sticks
    – 1 cup of sultanas
    – Filling 1: ½ cup reduced fat spreadable cream cheese
    – Filling 2: 1 grated carrot
    – Filling 3: ½ cup hummus

Trim the ends of the celery sticks and wash each stick.
Combine ingredients for each filling and spoon filling into the celery stick.
Place sultana ants on top of the filling if desired.

Active Play at Home

Imitation games
Young children love to imitate adults. Clap your hands, move around the room in different ways (jump, skip hop) and watch your child try to do the same. Also try playing games with them that involve a quick movement like squat to stand.

Cardboard boxes
Cardboard boxes are great toys. They can be taped together, painted and decorated to become towers, cars or tunnels. Cut the ends off two cardboard boxes, line them up and tape them together. Ask your children to crawl through the tunnel to you. Cut windows and a door into a large box and you have a house.

Chase me!
Toddlers will start to run and they will love to be chased and caught. They also like to hop like a kangaroo run fast like a cheetah.

Little Helper!
Young children love to help. Involve them in daily routines like unpacking and packing away the toys, and setting up games.

Multicultural PLAYGROUP runs
Tuesdays 10:00am-12.00pm
Term 3, 1st August—19th Sept and Term 4, 17th October—5th Dec
Eastlakes Public School, Florence Ave, Eastlakes 2018

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This