Danielle moved to Darkinjung Country with her husband in 2019. Their son, Levi, was born at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.
Danielle explains the difficulties she experienced from both moving to a new place and becoming a first-time mother during the pandemic: “It was such a surreal time. I was a new mum and didn’t have any community connections because we’d just moved, and then lockdown happened.”
“Lewis doesn’t have any siblings so all the skills he might normally learn from a sibling – fighting over toys, being able to compete in a safe environment, playing together, even eating a meal together – he didn’t get any of that. They’re skills that aren’t explicitly taught as part of a program but they’re important skills to learn.”
As a result, playgroup is the first place they came after lockdown, where they have been a regular presence ever since: “It was really important for me that we had a safe space to become part of the community. For Levi, he hadn’t really socialised with anyone, so to be able to ease him into a social setting was really important as well.”
Danielle describes how Levi has gone from strength to strength since joining GNL’s playgroup: “When he first came he was not used to other people. He was very shy, and he wouldn’t leave my side. He’d bury his head; he wouldn’t look around like he is now. Fast forward two years, he walks in here like he owns the place. He helps himself to water, he knows where the cups are, he knows all the equipment, he helps pack up. He’s taking ownership in the group as he gets older.”
Danielle also takes comfort in knowing that Levi has developed community connections that will be with him for life: “The other things that’s important for me as our family is all in Sydney, if something was to happen to us, he’s comfortable here and he has a safe space here. So as he grows up, it’s good to know he could walk in here off the street and he knows the staff and everyone knows him, and he has a safe space to go to.”