Mess Matters

March 21, 2016 by Toni Susskind
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“Mess Matters,” a Melbourne indoor play centre that promotes the concept of Messy Play, has teamed up with the “Melbourne Friendship Circle,” to run a morning play session, once a term, for special needs Jewish children.

messmatters-400 The “Melbourne Friendship Circle,” the fastest growing Jewish organisation for children with special needs, supports over 100 families each week, supplying a range of programs, aimed at socialization and fun activities for children and young adults with special needs. These programs include weekly Sunday events, home visitations, celebrations for Jewish holidays and camps.

messA not for profit organisation, the Melbourne Friendship Circle exists exclusively on contributions from the local community and is run predominantly by volunteers aged 16 and upwards, who donate several hours of their time each week.

At Mess Matters, the children were introduced to Messy Play, which builds on the individual’s self esteem and confidence. This concept is seen as an important part of a child’s early learning years, as it supports mental development, through free learning and exploration.

In keeping with the concept of Messy Play, tactile activities such as water play, painting and play dough were set up around the room. The children were then given the independence of choosing for themselves which activities they wanted to do. Some children danced to the background music, mess-275whilst some played in the clam shells full of cotton balls, in the tent full of shredded straw, or painted and played with water.

Ilana, the director of Mess Matters has been running this event for the past three years, donating the space and equipment free of charge. She said that this was a special project for her, as she “loves giving back to the community.

“To watch the excitement on the children’s faces as they squish their hands into some play dough or paint, is just so special.” Additionally, she believes that the activities are a “fun way for the children to learn and explore, whilst giving the parents a few hours of brief respite.”


2 Responses to “Mess Matters”
  1. Mess Matters says:

    Melinda, this is a lovely article about the Friendship Cirlcle and the activity just happened to be run at Mess Matters at the time. Mess Matters has hosted the Friendship Circle on many occasions as ALL children are welcome there.

  2. Melinda Jones says:

    It is a sorry statement about the state of inclusion in the Jewish community. Mess Matters has just found a new market – parents who are anxious about their children who have disabilities. A news story would have been about Ilan & Debbie who come to regular sessions during the week and are totally included despite their disabilities. The story is about how everyone there forgets differences between abilities and friendships are formed because the kids appeal to each other. A radical idea? Yes and no. Yes because the Melbourne Jewish community is 20 years behind where it was 20 years ago and has no idea how damaging exclusion and segregation is to children with disabilities. No, because there is plenty of evidence that inclusion works not just for the disabled individual but for us all.

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