The word community is thrown around A LOT. ‘Our community believes’, ‘our community connects’, ‘we can help our community’ … the phrases go on for much longer than this blog, however the importance of a community, or a village if you like, goes far deeper than people you rely on.

Next month, Duck & Play will be hosting an event with our Community Partner, Gidget Foundation Australia who provide support to expectant and new parents within our community who may be experiencing perinatal anxiety or depression. It’s got us thinking what it means to have a community. Do we all benefit from our community or is it a group of people we associate with our schools, or a local sporting club?

The meaning of community defined as “the people with common interests living in a particular area[1]” and “a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests[2]” As a mother, business owner, daughter, friend and wife, the meaning of community (and or Village if you prefer) means to support, connect and socialise with.

What defines your community? Forced connection through a workplace? Getting support? A social setting? Or an organic connection now integrated in your everyday life?

Dr Brene´ Brown, Research Professor and Vulnerability expert, says “We are hardwired to connect with others, it’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and without it there is suffering.” The full impact of this notion may not be apparent until we need this connection when it matters the most. When you are at your most vulnerable.

Choosing your community, or your village, to deeply connect with can be a challenge. Choosing people who are worthy enough to listen, encourage and be vulnerable with you. In this case, it’s becoming a new parent or carer when vulnerability strikes with a freight truck and relies on your own sense of belonging to get up – night after night, day after day, for every feed, every cry or every nappy change.

My mind traces back to two examples where my community has stood up to the challenge. Four weeks following the birth of my daughter, my girlfriend reminded me that my first Mother’s Group was coming up and how good it will be to go out and meet new mothers. I remember the conversation well, boobs out and the stench of breast milk vomit coming from my pj’s. My response; “No thanks, I don’t need more friends!”

But after attending the first Mother’s Group meeting, we exchanged details and set up a Facebook private group and from then on, every Tuesday at 11am we met, exchanged stories, asked questions and allowed ourselves to be vulnerable with each other. These mornings forced me out of the house and got out of my own world. These girls were ace! Without knowing it, I was creating a community of my own.

My second example of showing up was swimming lessons (at Duck & Dive) during winter. Winter is tough to haul yourself and your child to swimming lessons, but it was our routine and I loved it! One winter morning I noticed another mother just wasn’t herself. Everything was hard for her in and out of the pool. After the lesson, in the change room she started telling us that her husband travels a lot for work and is not around a lot. She cried, still in her swimmers and son demanding her attention. Other mothers and I were stunned, a tsunami of emotion right here, half naked and so vulnerable. We listened, offered words of encouragement and help if she needed it. The following week she thanked us.

There is a greater need for community / community support and human connection. Not via our smart phones, I mean, eye to eye make you feel uncomfortable connection.  

In our communities (or trade areas) where dense residential living is increasing rapidly with a growing population[3], ironically, we are moving away from a sense of belonging. Feeling more isolated and alone, even with the increased number of neighbours around us. Duck & Play, aside from the educational benefits for our children, was built on a foundation of deep community connection. A place to go where community members feel nurtured, worthy and connected. An environment away from financial stresses and isolation. Even if it was just me and another mother at Mother’s Group or 2 other mothers at swimming lessons, I made the effort because it was her routine too. She was making the effort and I wanted to support her, the fellow sister in my community who taking the risk to be vulnerable and emotionally exposed. Trusting me that I was worthy enough to listen to her story.

Our Community Partner[4], Gidget Foundation Australia upholds what it means to be supported within your community. With 1 in 5 new mothers and 1 in 10 new fathers experiencing perinatal depression and anxiety, Gidget Foundation provides support and wellbeing programs no matter where you may be located. This partnership is for those parents who seem to have lost that sense of love and belonging.

We hope Duck & Play can be part of your community.

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