Three key memories come to mind when asked why we opted to move an hour south of Sydney after establishing Quirky Kid, a child psychology clinic in Woollahra 10 years ago.
The first is a visual of me hanging out the washing while looking up at the underbelly of a 747 as it roared over the Inner West towards Mascot. With our newborn baby, Olivia, on a blanket close by, I was well and truly ready to start searching for a cleaner environment to raise a family.
The second was standing on a whale-watching platform at a small coastal school between Stanwell Park and Thirroul. I remember hatching a plan to meet the principal and see if they were taking new enrolments.
Spotting a great space for a clinic in Austinmer is the last. Everything started to line-up and it was then just a case of taking the plunge. So, we opted for fresher air, more space and a better value home, backing onto the bush with ocean views.
It felt like our quality of life had improved, except on those days when I needed to be in the city. At the time, I was very thankful for ‘quiet carriages, WI-FI and express trains’. I’d jump on, whip open my laptop and write for an hour and a half each way. That’s how I finished writing my 80,000 word PhD thesis in 2016.
Since then I’ve worked on doing less commuting by growing a very special team of psychologists, graphic designers, illustrators and support staff. Now I see the bulk of my clients in Austinmer – a small beach-side village, 20 minutes North of Wollongong.
Christie Hayes on why she tree changed. (Post continues below.)
In true Quirky Kid style, the clinic is designed to help children feel comfortable, with blackboard paint, big wooden workbenches and glass jars full of brightly coloured craft supplies. We see local families as well as those who have travelled from Canberra, Bateman’s Bay and even Darwin to access our psychometric assessments and school holiday programs.
Between clients, Quirky Kid creates resources for classrooms and clinics to help children overcome anxiety (Basecamp), and to teach social and emotional wellbeing (The Best of Friends). We’ve recently partnered with the University of Wollongong (UOW) to research the efficacy of our programs and we joined iAccelerate, a business accelerator in the Illawarra designed to help scale social enterprises, like Quirky Kid, to generate more jobs in the local community.