Andrew and Narelle Whatham plan to open a third Green Beginnings child care centre on the Sunshine Coast in the new Bokarina Beach development. Picture: OGE Architects and Erle Levey
Andrew and Narelle Whatham plan to open a third Green Beginnings child care centre on the Sunshine Coast in the new Bokarina Beach development. Picture: OGE Architects and Erle Levey

Eco-focused childcare centre hopes for ‘green’ light

A husband and wife-owned childcare company plans to open another nature-focused centre inside a new Coast development.

 

Andrew and Narelle Whatham applied to Sunshine Coast Council to develop an empty 1604sq m block into a third Green Beginnings centre.

The owners and directors of the early learning service said they were excited to share their days with more little people and families.

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An early childhood teacher herself, Mrs Whatham took after her mother who was in the industry for 18 years.

Her dream for creating her own play space for children started early in her career when she would save vision boards on her laptop.

"When our own children came along it was easy to convince my husband that the world needed a place like Green Beginnings," Mrs Whatham said.

"We lived on acreage at the time with cows and sheep and chickens and had veggie patches and fruit trees.

"Our children were harvesting fruit and veg, bailing hay, collecting eggs and keeping foxes out of the chicken pen."

The first Green Beginnings service opened in 2011.

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Both existing centres are situated on either side of Lake Kawana.

The proposed third service would be in the new Bokarina Beach development.

It would cater for 75 children.

"We saw just how powerful the role of the natural world was in children's lives … and wanted to replicate something like this in the design of the centres we planned to create for children," Mrs Whatham said.

"We wanted to challenge the institutionalised norm that was being sold to families as the best place for children to grow."

Andrew and Narelle Whatham plan to open a third Green Beginnings child care centre on the Sunshine Coast in the new Bokarina Beach development. Picture: Supplied
Andrew and Narelle Whatham plan to open a third Green Beginnings child care centre on the Sunshine Coast in the new Bokarina Beach development. Picture: Supplied

Like their current businesses, the design for the proposed new site focused on play spaces that embrace nature, stimulate the mind, invite conversations and warm the soul.

The centre would focus on reducing waste, increasing recycling and reducing consumption.

It follows their philosophy to "reuse, rejuvenate and reinvigorate".

They encourage an "anti-waste behaviour" by purchasing furniture, toys and other materials from second-hand stores, garage sales, Gumtree and donations.

Much of their equipment has been repurposed or redesigned.

Tables and chairs have had their legs cut down to suit the ages, TV cabinets have been converted into dress up wardrobes and old pallets were turned into outdoor stage and puppet theatres.