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Kids Activity Ideas: Whats On This Autumn In Newcastle, Lake Macquarie & Hunter Valley

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Autumn is the perfect time for the family to get outdoors and make the most of Newcastle and the surrounding region. Swim at beautiful beaches, hike in national parks, cycle through the bush or see native animals up close. If you prefer to stay indoors, you’ll find plenty of museums, galleries and shows to explore during the autumn school holidays.

ART & CRAFT

 

CRAFTALIVE NEWCASTLE

25 to 28 March (Child – $0, Adult $15)

CraftAlive is Australia’s longest running craft event series.  With both local and interstate craft talent, the show is packed full of the latest craft supplies, kits and equipment.  CraftAlive is a hands-on event. A chance to learn from leading craft experts with interactive classes. A top tip…book your tickets online and save dollars.

A weekend dedicated to craft including patchwork, quilting, machine appliqué, long arm quilting, yarn, paper craft, card making, hand embroidery, machine embroidery, scrap booking, stitchery, cross stitch and more.

 

CHILDREN’S ART TRAILS

Newcastle Art Gallery,  Available with selected exhibitions | For children of all ages (Free)

These free, do-it-yourself Gallery activity booklets are available with selected exhibitions and are there for the whole family to enjoy. Our Art Trails are a great way to entertain children in the Gallery, offering questions, puzzles, clues and quirky pieces of information.

 

SCHOOL HOLIDAY WORKSHOPS

Newcastle Art Gallery, Every school holidays, available for booking Monday to Friday | Children aged 5-12 years ($12)

School holiday workshops are a fun, easy way for children to engage with specialty materials or processes and achieve a high-quality outcome. Gallery educators interpret exhibitions on display through structured creative and cultural activities. Children explore and engage in a wide range of materials and develop skills in art making techniques. Workshops run two times per day from Monday to Friday every school holidays.

After signing in your child with our Gallery educators at the front desk, you can go and enjoy a cup of coffee or a browse down Darby Street while your child explores their creative side. 

Session times: 10.30am-11.30am, 12.30pm-1.30pm.  Payment required at time of booking. Bookings recommended in advance, as session places fill up fast.

Visit the Event Calendar for more information about future scheduled workshops.

 

ART CART

Newcastle Art Gallery,  Every Saturday 10.30am – 12:15pm | Free event, all ages welcome (Free)

Art Cart

Art Cart is the Gallery’s regular all ages art making program themed around current exhibitions and special events. Led by Gallery educators, the program is designed to engage participants through discussion and hands-on activities. Activities can be simplified or made more complex depending on the participant. 

To take part supervision is required by a parent or carer. There is a maximum of one parent or carer per participant as places are limited. Average duration: 30minutes.

Session 1: 10.30am-11:15am and Session 2: 11.30am-12:15pm

BOOKINGS VIA TRYBOOKING: https://www.trybooking.com/BMOQW

 

TASTES OF THE BUSH

Newcastle Art Gallery,  Saturday 17 April | 10.30am – 2.00pm (Free)

Coinciding with Newcastle Food Month and in celebration of the closing weekend of the exhibition VOID, Newcastle Art Gallery invites you to a Gallery wide, family-friendly, celebration of Aboriginal art, food and culture.

Experience the unique flavours of Australia with Oz Tukka, who will be offering free tastings of food flavoured with Australian native spices. Hear contemporary and traditional Aboriginal songs on the Yidaki (Didgeridoo) by respected Yidaki player Uncle Perry Fuller. Enjoy a special dance performance by Catapult Dance in response to the Aboriginal exhibition VOID. Explore traditional and contemporary craft through artmaking activities and demonstrations.

BOOKINGS VIA TRYBOOKINGS: https://www.trybooking.com/BPVMM

 

CODE BREAKERS

Maitland Regional Art Gallery, 10:00 AM — 5:00 PM | Recurring Event (Free)

Are you good at solving puzzles? Do you think that you can locate some hidden features in the art gallery? If so, grab yourself a clipboard with Code Breaker from the art gallery Front Desk and use the clues to break the code!

 

FREE ART SUNDAYS FOR ALL AGES

Maitland Regional Art Gallery, 10:30 AM — 12:30 PM | Recurring Event (Free)

Every Sunday families are welcome to book in to attend free art activities inspired by the exhibitions on display. Our activities are designed for kids of all ages, and as a family you can all join in and get creative. Each activity takes around half an hour to complete.

The workshop is designed to encourage parents and children to add to their experience of the gallery by accessing hands-on activities in a family friendly environment.

BOOKINGS ESSENTIAL VIA EVENTBRITE, OR PHONE 4934 9859.

EDUCATION

 

SCIENCE BUSKING

Newcastle Museum, Tuesdays & Thursdays 6 – 15 April | 10am-12 & 1pm – 3pm (Free)

Science Busking is back at the Newcastle Museum with a whole new line-up of fascinating science demonstrations to see and conversations to have, plus the return of a few old favourites.  Come and have some fascinating science fun with Catherine and Emma on Tuesdays and Thursdays over the school holidays, no bookings required!

 

COLOUR EXHIBITION

Newcastle Museum, Ending Sunday 2 May | Bookings Essential, Suitable for ages 4+ (Free)

See colour as you’ve never seen it before in this exhibition developed by Questacon – the National Science and Technology Centre and presented by Newcastle Museum.

Is your yellow the same as mine? How do pixels and paint differ? Have you ever wanted to see UV light like an insect?

Engage with more than 20 scientific experiences, ranging from coloured bubbles to iridescent insects to colour illusions. Explore how light influences colour and compare your perception of colour with your family and friends. See glowing quantum nanomaterials that change their colour with crystal size. The exhibition will show the power colour has on the choices you make every day, and on your responses to your environment.

 

DIGITAL LIBRARY

Newcastle Libraries (Free)

In September, 2020, Newcastle Libraries opened the Digital Library – a brand new shared library space on level 1 of the City of Newcastle’s Central Administration Centre at 12 Stewart Avenue, Newcastle West.

The Digital Library showcases our digital collection and cutting edge technology like a Magic Box, Pepper the Robot, a Digital Story Wall, a Podcast Studio, Hublets and Digital Reading Tables, a 3D Printer and Maker Kits for Loan. Through increased access to these technologies we are encouraging the community to continue to learn and play in the emerging technology space. The Digital Library also enables visitors to engage with our unique Newcastle Stories and local history in new, interactive ways.

The Digital Library is home to an exclusive and readily accessible collection of popular adult and kids titles. Whether it’s the latest must-read biography or blockbuster movie you are looking for, this library will have it. The ‘Grab and Go’ collection for members has no reservations, no waiting, if it’s on the shelf you can take it home!

 

Newcastle Digital Library

 

10 MINUTES A DAY – Baby Book Time

Newcastle Library, March: Wednesdays 3, 10, 17, 24 March -11:00-11:30am (Free)

Introduce your baby to the wonderful world of books. Using stories, songs, rhymes, dancing and music this fun series of four workshops runs over 4 weeks. Baby Book Time will provide you with the tools and resources to nurture your child’s love of reading. This program is limited to 12 babies with an accompanying Carer.

For babies aged 0-12 months and their carers.  Bookings essential. Please note: You only need to book 1 ticket for a 4 week session as each ticket covers both the child and carer.

 

FORT SCRATCHLEY

Fort Scratchley, Six days per week 10am – 4pm Closed Tuesdays (Free – $13)

Guided Tunnel tours are led by passionate Fort Scratchley Historical Society volunteers with a wealth of knowledge about the site.  The Tunnel Tour provides unique insight into the history of the site.  Tunnel Tours must be booked and pre-paid online as capacity is limited. Tours are offered at regular intervals each day the Fort is open: 10.30am, 11.30am, 1.10pm 1:40pm, 2.30pm.  The tour duration is 60 minutes, yet it is recommended you allow 90 minutes on site.

Unfortunately, due to the narrow stairs and hallways, the tour is unsuitable for wheelchairs, walkers, prams & strollers.  The timed gun fires at 1pm every day the Fort is open and is best viewed from the parade ground at Fort Scratchley with Customs House in the background.

The timed gun firing is a time honoured seafaring tradition of firing a gun at 1pm to coincide with the Customs House time ball drop.  The time ball and gun firing at precisely 1pm was used in ports around the world in the 19th century to allow sea captains to adjust their navigation instruments.  Newcastle is one of the very few ports around the world that have the capability of firing a gun in tandem with the drop of a time ball.

NATURE

 

BLACKBUTT RESERVE 

Wildlife exhibits open from 10am to 4.30pm daily | (Free to $106)

Blackbutt Reserve offers opportunities to get up close and personal with a range of animals in one of our public or private encounters.

There’s also 10km of walking trails and plentiful picnic and playground facilities to enjoy. Drop into Richley Reserve and experience the adventure playground with rope courses, bridges, swings and slides, and an adventure tower. The playground at the Carnley Avenue entrance is more suited to children aged 6-10 years with interactive musical instruments and activities.

 

GLENROCK STATE CONSERVATION AREA

Available All Times (Free)

Glenrock State Conservation Area provides excellent opportunities for mountain bike riding and walking. With 14km of purpose-built bike trails and 20km of linked management trails in the northern section of the park, allow a day to explore the area. The mountain bike tracks will take you on a windy ride through open forest and woodlands and, in combination with the trail network, provide access to Burwood Beach, Leichhardt’s lookout and the waterfalls.

The trails are graded – green circle for beginners, blue square for intermediate and black diamond for advanced, so there is bound to be one that suits your level. Biking trails are all signed, so if you can’t see a sign it means that riding is not permitted. 

Large bike maps are installed at major entrances, but if you’d like to print off and take your own, or find out further information on how to volunteer, checkout the  Glenrock Trail Alliance website

 

Glenrock

 

NEWCASTLE MEMORIAL WALK

Available All Times | Memorial Drive The Hill, on Strzelecki Headland (Free)

The Anzac walk was built to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the ANZAC landing at Gallipoli in 1915 and the commencement of steel making in Newcastle; it acts as a magnificent memorial to the men and women of the Hunter who served their community and their country.

The structure cost $4.5m to build and is a 450 meter long cliff top walkway that links Newcastle’s Strzelecki Lookout to Bar Beach.

View the Anzac Memorial Walk map.

 

TREETOPS ADVENTURE PARK

Located at Minmi, catering for most age groups and fitness levels. (From $28)

Take your pick of the fun work out of our Adventure parks, the extreme thrill of the Crazy Rider or bounce, play, discover and explore at NetWorld.

TreeTops is suitable for people of some physical, intellectual and sensory disabilities.  TreeTop Adventure Park requires participants to be independently mobile without physical assistance.

 

IRUKANDJI SHARK AND RAY ENCOUNTERS

Anna Bay, Open 9am to 5pm daily, (Free for infants up to $31.50 for Adults)

Experience the true nature of sharks, rays and the weird and wonderful world of the ocean. You can choose to enter the animal’s world by going into the water or feed and pat them from the edges of the pools.

This unique experience is a once in a lifetime opportunity to interact with marine life by joining them in their world. Feeding a natural predator in the wild can create an array of impacts from damaging delicate ecological systems to influencing the behaviors of these animals to associate humans with food. Irukandji takes away that danger with a wide array of friendly sharks and rays just bursting to say Hi.

 

BARRINGTON TOPS NATIONAL PARK

Always open but may have to close at times due to poor weather or fire danger.

Immerse yourself in the World Heritage-listed Gondwana Rainforests of Barrington Tops National Park. Easy walks, overnight hikes, great picnic, fishing and camping spots await.

The rainforests of Barrington Tops National Park are of international significance, forming part of the Gondwana Rainforests of Australia World Heritage Area. Carved out of ancient volcanic flows, the park rises from near sea level to over 1500m and protects one of the largest temperate rainforests in mainland Australia, along with a host of diverse habitats and a wide range of birds and animals.

The park is a bush walker’s paradise, with an excellent walking track network that includes short and easy walks to more difficult overnight hikes, with plenty of sites to set up a bush camp for the evening.

For those visiting for the day, there are lots of picnic and barbecue areas to enjoy, cycling trails to be explored and views from the park’s lookouts that need to be seen to be believed. Fishing is a popular activity in the park between October and May; you might catch a rainbow or brown trout.

ENTERTAINMENT

 

PAW PATROL LIVE  “Race to the Rescue” 

29 to 30 May | Newcastle Entertainment Centre ($29 – $59)

It’s the day of the Great Adventure Bay Race between Adventure Bay’s Mayor Goodway and Foggy Bottom’s Mayor Humdinger, but Mayor Goodway is nowhere to be found. PAW Patrol to the rescue! Ryder summons Marshall, Chase, Skye, Rubble, Rocky, Zuma and Everest to rescue Mayor Goodway and to run the race in her place.

Based on the hit animated TV series on Nickelodeon produced by Spin Master Entertainment, PAW Patrol Live! “Race to the Rescue” Presented by Stan

 

BLUEY’S BIG PLAY

24 to 25 April | Civic Theatre Newcastle ($5 – $45.90)

When Dad feels like a little bit of Sunday arvo time out, Bluey and Bingo have other plans! Join them as they pull out all of the games and ingenuity at their disposal to get Dad off that bean bag.

Bluey’s Big Play is a brand-new theatrical adaptation of the Emmy® award-winning children’s television series, with an original story by Bluey’s creator Joe Brumm, and new music by Brisbane’s Beethoven and Bluey composer, Joff Bush.

Join the Heelers in their first live theatre show made just for you, featuring brilliantly created puppets, this is Bluey brought to real life as you’ve never seen it before.

 

PIXAR PUTT

1 to 25 April | Wheeler Place ($19.90 to $39.90)

 

 

Get ready to kick some serious putt when Pixar Putt heads to Newcastle for the first time this April! Putt your way around 9 or 18 holes at Wheeler Place Precinct for a limited season from Thursday 1 April until Sunday 25 April. Australia’s most exciting open-air mini golf experience is inspired by some of Pixar’s most adored films and takes guests to infinity…and beyond!

This immersive open-air mini-golf experience is made up of interactive holes inspired by the stories, characters and icons from some of Pixar’s most beloved films including Toy Story, The Incredibles, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo, A Bug’s Life, Wall-E, Inside Out and more.

Pixar Putt is Newcastle’s must-do attraction during the April school holidays and is set to take guests to infinity…and beyond!

 

THE WIGGLES – We’re All Fruit Salad Tour!

21 April | Newcastle Entertainment Centre ($39.65 – $43.70)

Australia, it’s time to get ready to Wiggle! THE WIGGLES are coming to perform for you in April and May as part of their We’re All Fruit Salad Tour! This show will see Emma, Lachy, Simon and Anthony singing and dancing their way around Australia with all their Wiggly Friends; Captain Feathersword, Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog, Henry the Octopus and their newest Wiggly Friend; Shirley Shawn the Unicorn!

The Wiggles’ founding member, and Blue Wiggle Anthony Field says “The We’re All Fruit Salad Tour! is a truly wonderful show and I can’t wait for our fans to experience it! You’ll hear all the classic songs you love plus new ones! The show will feature a variety of dance styles and performances that go with different styles of music. Children will see and hear drums, keyboards, banjo, guitars, bagpipes and lots of singing. We hope to see you there!”

 

THE WITCHES – By Roald Dahl

15 to 17 April | The Playhouse, Civic Theatre

Witches absolutely detest children! To a Witch, a child smells like dog’s droppings. And now the Grand High Witch is planning to get rid of every child in the world – can anybody stop them?

Hunter Drama is synonymous with bringing the colourful, captivating and imaginative world of Roald Dahl to the stage. Hunter Drama’s 2018’s production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory played to rave reviews and a sold out season.

This time, we follow the adventures of a brave young boy who unwittingly stumbles into the Annual General Meeting for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. However, these women are not what they seem… they are Witches in disguise and the boy hears of their nasty plan to get rid of all the children in the world once and for all, by turning them into mice!

Brave boys and girls are in for a wicked and wonderful time these April School holidays at the Civic Playhouse for The Witches.

 

MADE.IN.NEWCASTLE – Luminous Creatures

Newcastle Civic Park, Saturday 27 March | 6:30pm (Free)

Curious Legends is bringing our clan of Illuminated Giants to Civic Park this March – come join us for an inspiring family event! River Spirits and soaring eagles, a giant Banana Peel and humungous Dragon – join us for an exciting community celebration – Curious Legends style!

This is an all ages event, and includes live music, paticipatory performance, & a lantern parade. Come at 6:30pm for a picnic with our roving creations – then from 7:30pm we’ll run a community workshop, and show you how to ‘wake’ our giants! BYO light, or join our Community Lantern Making workshop on Sunday the 21st and Monday the 22nd in our Hamilton Studios. 

This is a FREE community event from our Made In Newcastle series of events, funded by Newcastle City Council’s SBR program. Registration is not needed – please turn up, and scan a QR code on arrival. See you on the night!!!

Book now https://www.stickytickets.com.au/curiouslegends

 

EASTER FUN DAY

Hunter Wetlands Centre, Saturday 3 April | 9.30 am to 2.00pm ($5 – $7.50)

Hop along to the Hunter Wetlands Centre on Saturday 3 April from 9.30 am to 2.00pm for Easter fun.  There’ll be a jumping castle, dip-netting, Easter craft, reptile encounters, a Bunny Trail to follow and lots more.  And, of course, meet the Easter Bunny!  Enjoy our sausage sizzle, eat at the Wetlands Café or bring a picnic. 

All tickets must be booked online. There will be no ticket sales on the day.  Sausage Sizzle available for $2.50 on the day

MOVIES

 

RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON

Now screening

Walt Disney Animation Studios’ Raya and the Last Dragon travels to the fantasy world of Kumandra, where humans and dragons lived together long ago in harmony. But when an evil force threatened the land, the dragons sacrificed themselves to save humanity. Now, 500 years later, that same evil has returned and it’s up to a lone warrior, Raya, to track down the legendary last dragon to restore the fractured land and its divided people. However, along her journey, she’ll learn that it’ll take more than a dragon to save the world—it’s going to take trust and teamwork as well. Raya and the Last Dragon features the voices of Kelly Marie Tran as Raya, a warrior whose wit is as sharp as her blade, and Awkwafina as the magical, mythical, self-deprecating dragon named Sisu. Characters also include a street-savvy 10-year-old entrepreneur named Boun, the formidable giant Tong and a thieving toddler Noi with her band of Ongis.

 

 

PETER RABBIT 2

In cinemas 25 March

In PETER RABBIT™, the lovable rogue is back. Bea, Thomas, and the rabbits have created a makeshift family, but despite his best efforts, Peter can’t seem to shake his mischievous reputation. Adventuring out of the garden, Peter finds himself in a world where his mischief is appreciated, but when his family risks everything to come looking for him, Peter must figure out what kind of bunny he wants to be.

 

 

TOM & JERRY: THE MOVIE

In cinemas 27 March

Tom gets kicked out by his owners and has no place to live anymore along with his longtime rival Jerry, who has also left without a source of food. Now homeless, the cat and mouse duo are left wandering in the streets and decide to call a truce to their rivalry then go their separate ways to have a fresh start in their lives. The two later cross paths in Manhattan, NYC, where Jerry has taken up residence in the city’s largest, exquisite and finest Royal Gate Hotel, causing all sorts of trouble while the staff is preparing for the “wedding of the century” between Ben (Colin Jost) and Preeta (Pallavi Sharda). Kayla (Chloë Grace Moretz), a young, newly employed staff member, is tasked by the hotel manager Mr. DuBros (Rob Delaney) with planning the event and getting rid of Jerry. Kayla later finds Tom and hires him to catch Jerry, reigniting their never-ending fight. However, chaos unfolds when the cat-and-mouse slapstick battle threatens to destroy Kayla’s career, the wedding, and possibly even the hotel itself as the chase causes widespread mayhem. But soon, an even bigger problem arises as the three may have to put their differences aside when they uncover a diabolical conspiracy that involves the deputy hotel manager Terrence (Michael Peña).

 

 

HEDDON GRETA DRIVE IN

Mainstream new movies screened on Friday and Saturday nights, plus a snack bar. Cash only.

The gates at Heddon Greta Drive In cinema open at least 30 minutes before the first movie and 5-10 minutes before subsequent movies.

You will need an FM car radio in order to hear the sound. The high tech nature of many modern cars means that the car radio will often close down every 15 or 30 minutes. That’s why we recommend you bring a portable FM radio with reliable batteries .

SPORT & ACTIVITY

 

RIP CURL NEWCASTLE CUP

1 April to 11 April 2021 | Merewether Beach (Free)

Home to one of the longest-running professional surfing events in the world, Merewether Beach in the city of Newcastle holds a special place in the heart of all CT competitors. Home to surfing legends such as Mark Richards, Luke Egan, Matt Hoy and Ryan Callinan to name a few, the late autumn months in Newcastle will be sure to dish up peaky beach breaks and hopefully the unmistakable bowling rights of Merewether when competitors hit the water in search of title points for the first time in over 20 years at the Rip Curl Newcastle Cup.

Please note: Due to COVD-19 restrictions/guidelines there are a limited amount of tickets available each day.

 

HUNTER ICE SKATING STADIUM

Public Ice Skating & Learn To Skate Lessons | Warners Bay (From $15)

Learn to Skate caters for multiple levels of ability and is for all ages.   Learn to Skate sessions are run between 8:00am and 10:00am on Saturday mornings, and between 5:30 and 6:30pm on Wednesdays.  Your Learn to Skate session will have you on the ice for ONE HOUR PER SESSION, which includes half an hour of tuition, and half an hour to practice your freshly acquired skills in a free skate

Or just skate in a public session where your price of admission lets you skate as long as you like plus you can start and finish whenever you like within the public session time..

 

HOLEY MOLEY

10am to 10pm and 11pm on Fri & Sat | Charlestown  Square (From $12)

Holey Moley is the craziest round of mini-golf you’ve ever played!  We’re a mini golf course and bar that brings fun to a new level. With two different nine-hole courses to choose from, you’ll putt your stuff around 18 uniquely themed holes.

After you have worked up a thirst, settle in at our Caddyshack bar. With drinks, cocktails, tunes and great grub on offer, The Caddyshack will take care of all their off-the-green needs.

NOTE: After 8pm, no under 18s are allowed in Holey Moley.

 

NINJA PARC

From 6am to 9pm | Darby St, Cooks Hill (From $10)

We aim to inspire a world of movement through offering an indoor obstacle course that’s not only fun, but also accessible for all ages and skill levels. Put simply, we want to get everyone moving and experiencing the fun of playtime!

Ready to get moving? The Ninja Parc indoor obstacle course includes rope climbs, bouldering challenges, vertical and horizontal doors and a sea of poles, each offering the opportunity to improve agility and unleash your inner Ninja!

FOOD

 

NEWCASTLE FOOD MONTH

1 to 30 April | Various locations

Newcastle Food Month is 30 days of culinary celebrations in the City of Newcastle featuring local chefs, eateries and producers.

Newcastle Food Month is here to serve up an exciting menu of culinary experiences that salute homegrown hospitality and produce.  More than 60 restaurants, 30 feature events, 3 festivals and 1 major world-renowned dining experience will light up our city in April 2021.

Visit the Newcastle Food Month website for a full calendar of events and a list of all the Plate Date venues and meal specials.

 

NEWCASTLE NIGHT NOODLE MARKET

9 & 10  April | Newcastle Harbour Foreshore 5pm – 10pm (Free to attend)

Set under festoon lighting and hanging lanterns feast your senses on the smells and tastes of Newcastle Night Noodle Markets. You will be spoilt for choice from Newcastle and surrounds most exciting International food artists.

 

 

So many cuisines, so many choices, so much deliciousness.  

 

LAKE MAC EASTER MARKET

Speers Point Park – Sunday, April 4, 2021 at 10 AM – 2 PM (Free to attend)

Specialty market including all the usual Homegrown faves with the addition of some awesome Easter activities & stalls

 

NEWCASTLE CITY FARMERS MARKET

Newcastle Showground – Most Sundays Of The Month (Free to attend)

When you go to the Newcastle City Farmers Market at the Broadmeadow Showground you have an unique opportunity to interact directly with our farmers, producers and artisans.

Where else but at ‘The Farmers’ can you buy groceries direct from the farmer – from the person who grew, nurtured and made the product. At the weekly farmers market you not only get to meet the maker and the farmer, you can ask about how and where it’s grown or made, how best to store or use it.

It’s an experience that cannot be replicated on a daily basis. Our farmers tend crops, timing their harvests to ensure your produce is as fresh as can be, which is not something any store can duplicate daily.

Written by Kay Dhalmi

Director of Imagine Early Learning and Childcare