Earlier this month, Play School aired episodes of their show which are Indian themes and had very catchy Punjabi tunes. This is a win for diversity for sure and cultural competency education starts with the young. The Australian South Asian Centre (ASAC), did a Facebook post promoting this and what an awesome thing to promote indeed.
Indian Australian actor & screenwriter Leah Vandenberg created these episodes and from watching the trailer for it, it is extremely important cultural education – Well Done! These episodes also mark the first time raditional Punjabi instruments like the Tumbi and Dhol are used and shown on set and the first time Bhangra ( form of Indian dance) is shown with the Play School toy characters joining in.
Here is more on who Vandenberg is (via ASAC):
“Leah is a member of Australian South Asian Centre (ASAC) a community of impact driven leaders, creatives and entrepreneurs. She was an artist in residence at Soul House in Belgrave where she began writing the episode. She has been an actor on award winning Netflix series, The Letdown, SBS’ The Hunting & was one of Australia’s first South Asian female actors to be cast in a regular role on TV. Born in NZ to an Irish-Australian mother and a Fiji-Indian father, Leah spent early years in Fiji and then moved to Brisbane. She was recognised as Australia’s Steller South Asian Women 2021 by ASAC. Leah’s warmth and playfulness in person and on-screen embodies Play School’s ethos encouraging children to wonder, think, feel and imagine.”
Daizy Maan, Co-founder & CEO Australian South Asian Centre, spoke about the importance these episodes are for the community (via ASAC):
“As an Indian / Punjabi who was bullied in school – I feel indebted to Leah for her commitment to increasing representation on mainstream Australian TV in such an authentic way, her work makes us feel like we too belong in Australia. Representation created by those with lived experience is what leads to more harmony and inclusion, if children can see diversity in this way while they are young this directly tackles racism. It’s very impressive that she has written the tune despite Punjabi not being her mother tongue – her genuine and deep interest in various cultures is an inspiration to all of us. She’s a real role model. ”