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Outdoor Learning in BC Schools - Volunteers Wanted for Working Group

A group of BCSLA interns are seeking volunteers to explore the feasibility of expanding outdoor learning in BC Public Schools.  Our interest in this topic was set in motion when we came across several articles which detailed a number of different efforts that are being made in Canada and the US.  One in particular, the National Covid-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative drew our attention.  The administrators of this program are currently working to facilitate outdoor learning in schools across the United States and they have assembled a list of designers seeking to work with public schools (see specific links below).  Our group has created a resource document which contains a list of the various articles and websites we have come across in researching outdoor learning.   It is available to share with members who may have an interest in this topic, via the Dropbox link below. 

Article: PBS “California Collective Makes the case for outdoor schooling from Aug 2, 2020

https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/a-california-collective-makes-the-case-for-outdoor-schooling 

Website: Green Schoolyards

https://www.greenschoolyards.org/outdoor-infrastructure

Website: ASLA “Landscape Architects Assist Schools to Create Outdoor Classrooms” from Aug 11, 2020

https://www.asla.org/land/LandArticle.aspx?id=58023

PDF of full resource document list via Dropbox: https://www.dropbox.com/s/m9g613owyb62b7o/BC%20Outdoor%20Learning%20Initiative%20%E2%80%93%20Resource%20Document%20-%202020%20Oct%201.pdf?dl=0

Questions we are hoping the working group will explore include:  

  1. What measures are BC public schools currently taking? 
  2. Whether joining the National Covid-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative is feasible and whether any Canadian landscape architects and designers are already involved?   
  3. What unique contributions can BCSLA members make that will benefit initiatives by individual school boards that may already be underway?  ”Landscape architects play a critical role in advocating and designing a variety of places for children to play, learn, and develop a relationship with the natural environment to carry with them into adulthood and citizenship.  As design professionals, we have the opportunity to help foster young stewards of [the] natural environment.” (Children’s Outdoor Environments PPN, ASLA) 
  4. Whether to join with allied professionals in the effort to expand outdoor learning in BC public schools? 
  5. What funding streams are available for potential pilot projects?  

Some potential outcomes of our work could be:

  1. A Statement from BCSLA describing the benefits of outdoor education.
  2. A standard learning objectives course outline distributed by the BCSLA.
  3. A list of trained BCSLA members willing to deliver outdoor education course material to classrooms.
  4. An opportunity for BCSLA members to work collaboratively with school boards to offer design services or consult on potential ways to increase the opportunity for outdoor learning and classrooms in BC schools.
  5. The opportunity to engage young people and have them participate in the development of their community and greenspaces.
  6. Pilot projects where we could transform under-performing spaces into green public architecture, thereby improving public health, environmental health, and overall quality of life. 

We see this effort as a way to add to the body of knowledge about the benefits of outdoor learning whether as a response to a pandemic or in general.  Supporting burgeoning efforts to deal with the havoc wrought by the novel coronavirus on public education is consistent with our professional role in designing sites that promote the well-being and safety of those who use them. This proposed initiative will allow us to connect with the general public and demonstrate the role landscape architecture plays in designing the spaces in which we live, work, study and play.  

No specific time commitment is required, however, members of the working group will be asked to state the commitment of time they are willing to make.  Contribution of your time to this effort may provide an opportunity to earn CE Credits.  If you are interested in working on this proposed initiative or if you have any resources or information on the topic that may be of interest, please get in touch with our group, BCSLA Interns: Arlene Gillman, Aaron Li, Fayez Rawas and Sarah Thomas, by sending an email to [email protected]   

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