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Businesses in Southbank

09 Apr 2019

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Giving back in more ways than one

The Jumbo Early Education centre has quickly become a cornerstone of the community in South Wharf.

Established by long-time friends Samantha Ludbey-Stynes, Kirsty Fletcher and Tahnaya O’Malley at DFO South Wharf three years ago, the facility has helped to drive a sense of community in the precinct that it had long been lacking.

And it has not only helped to build the community by educating and caring for its youngest people, Jumbo’s business model is entirely based around giving back to those less fortunate.

Widow of the late Melbourne Football Club legend Jim Stynes OAM, who passed away in 2012 from cancer, Samantha continues to drive Jim’s legacy as founder and director of the Jim Stynes Foundation.

The foundation is a public auxillary fund, which distributes funds to specifically chosen charities where every dollar makes a difference. These include the Lighthouse Foundation, Helping Hoops, The Confident Girls Foundation, as well as Jim’s own charity REACH Foundation.

Having once owned a number of childcare centres with Jim, Samantha joined forces with Kirsty to establish Jumbo as a means of providing income for the foundation to continue its work.

“Sam wanted to find money to keep Jim’s legacy going so it was like two separate things driving it and it just sort of organically became what it is,” Kirsty said. “It’s just been built from love and a lot of different people’s passions joined together.”

“Sam and I had gone to uni together as teachers and then Sam wanted to do it again and she asked for my help. So we were just bouncing ideas around until Sam found this place. Then it just sort of grew.”

While the facility’s location within DFO South Wharf had presented some early challenges, Sam said that its proximity to the Jim Stynes Bridge, located across the river in Docklands, was an opportunity too special to pass on.

Since establishing, she said that early education facilities in high-rise buildings had become the norm for inner-city families. Located on level 1 at DFO, the boutique long day care and kindergarten is fitted with a range of spacious simulated outdoor play spaces and learning facilities, providing access to natural light and ventilation overlooking the Yarra River.

Run by a team of dedicated and qualified educators, Samantha said sustainability was a major focus throughout Jumbo’s curriculum, with the kids regularly taken out into the community.

“We go on regular outings all the time,” Samantha said. “They are inner city kids because they live here or because mum or dad work around here. The kids are regularly catching trams going to Federation Square, the Wheel, the aquarium, the market so we’re always out and about in the local community.”

“It’s been about adapting to the community rather than trying to put something in that we assumed would work. We’ve really had to mould with the environment and the community.”

The pair said that Jumbo had established a strong “family” like relationship with all of its children and parents and they hoped the facility could one day become a hub run by the local community.

Jumbo Early Learning is located on level 1, DFO South Wharf - access from Wright Walk via lift or escalator.

Jumboearlyeducation.com.au

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