Opportunity for community and connection

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14 May 2024

Each Tuesday morning during the school term, the Friar’s Room of St Francis Xavier parish is buzzing with activity. It is the location for Little Frannie’s, a playgroup based at the parish, run in partnership with St Francis Xavier’s School, Box Hill, for babies to preschoolers and their parents, grandparents and carers.

Goody Muling, a learning support officer at St Francis Xavier’s School and also the playgroup coordinator, shares why this playgroup has been so important for the St Francis Xavier parish, school and wider community.

Goody says the initial idea came from the principal of St Francis Xavier’s School, Mary Jones, who offered the opportunity to ‘try something new and fun’.

‘When Mary asked me if I wanted to start a playgroup earlier this year, I said, “I’d love to!”’, said Goody. ‘It’s actually a combined school and parish playgroup so, in starting the group, I think Mary really wanted to strengthen the bond and the relationship between the parish and the school. It’s also a way of providing a connection to the wider community.’

Along with the mums and dads, there are also some grandparents who come along with their grandchildren. Goody says these same grandparents used to run the playgroup 30 years ago when their children were preschoolers, ‘which is amazing’.

‘Those grandparents belong to the parish and they bring their grandchildren along. And we have another parishioner, a grandmother who comes with her daughter and grandson’, she said.

Goody says the aim of the playgroup is to provide a safe and caring environment for children to play and develop social, emotional and creative skills. It’s also a time for children to socialise with other children, and an opportunity for community and connection among the parents and caregivers.

‘I think the big thing is that feeling of connection and that you belong somewhere. I know a lot of the parents say, “We’re actually coming for ourselves because we want to meet other people”.’

Little Frannie's playgroup

This is an extract of an article that was originally published on the Melbourne Catholic website. Photos by Fiona Basile.

Family Week runs from Monday 13 to Friday 17 May and this year’s theme is ‘Building Compassionate Families and Communities’. For more information or to access school resources, visit the CatholicCare Victoria website.