Parish Partnerships – Building Connections

AV’s Parish Partnerships program supports local Parishes to better address the needs of their community. Over 180 churches support AV in delivering support to thousands of people across the state each year. One heartwarming example is the Brick Club, based in Warrnambool.

Since 2013, the club has been using construction toys – most famous of which is Lego – to facilitate learning and engagement through the art of play. Used across a range of ages and settings, groups include local communities, primary school visits, disability sessions, children with Asperger Spectrum Condition, and an Aged Care initiative that brings elderly and primary children together. Leading with inclusivity, acceptance, and above all fun, the club is a rare space for boundless creativity, free of judgement or competition.

“We invite people in to play Lego with their children, share their creation, and then we do the packing up. It’s wonderful in its simplicity, but such an effective medium.” Louise Serra, Program Manager

“Playing with blocks offers a highly versatile format for developing foundation skills and meaningful experiences. It builds confidence; capacity for sharing, listening, contribution; and it’s great fun for any age,” she said.

We all know that feeling: the burning motivation that is awakened when searching for a missing Lego block, the one that would complete the masterpiece.

As Doris* (80 years old) crawled around the communal Aged Care lounge, looking for the last needed piece for a creation made with Jamie* (six years old), her carers saw a beautiful moment of connection: to the child in front of her; and the child within. It’s moments like these in which the magic of the Brick Club shines.

Construction play has also been successful at engaging children living with Autism or Asperger’s Spectrum Condition.

Five years ago a child first attended a school Brick Club session but struggled to behave appropriately. He could not cope with the noise from other children, or sharing bricks; he almost needed a private session. Since then a lot has changed. After attending enough sessions to receive the coveted Blue Architect t-shirt – the highest level acknowledgement of club commitment − his mother has noticed how he now takes turns to talk, listens to other people and likes to assist with finding pieces for other kids and their creations.

He initiates conversations and shares his ideas or suggestions for creations. The Brick Club is a refreshing alternative for playtime at school. Football and netball are dominant features in most regional playgrounds, but not all kids thrive in that environment. Brick Club sessions are held at four different primary schools in the region during lunch – perfectly suited for those struggling to socialise or taking a rest from AusKick; enabling different ways for children to develop and shine.

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