Fruit of the School Gardens: The International School Grounds Alliance is Born!

April 24th, 2012

Email This Blog Post Email This Blog Post Filed under: New Village Commons— New Village Press Team @ 2:08 pm

In the fall of 2011, New Village was the proud cohost of Engaging Our Grounds; a conference in San Francisco that celebrated the growing movement to enliven school grounds around the world. We are so proud to share this video of highlights from the conference with you, coproduced by Erika Brekke and conference director Sharon Danks, author of Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation.

We’d also like to share the exciting news of the brand new International School Grounds Alliance. From the press release:

New international group forms to address an increasingly sedentary and risk-averse generation of children disconnected from nature.

Growing school grounds movement gains international voice with formation of The International School Grounds Alliance.
Berkeley, California (April 24, 2012) – Organizations working to enrich the lives of children through outdoor learning and play have a new global school ground network where they can turn for ideas and support.

Leaders in the school ground movement from Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States have formed the nonprofit International School Grounds Alliance (ISGA) (, which brings together a wealth of experience in the fields of school ground use, design, education and management around the globe. The ISGA invites likeminded organizations and professionals to become members and collaborate to nurture and grow the international movement to help schools make the most of learning and play opportunities on their grounds.

“Children around the world, growing up in very different environments and cultural settings, all need engaging childhood learning and play experiences for healthy development and enjoyment,” says ISGA co-founder Sharon Danks of Bay Tree Design in California. “The ISGA is not only a resource, but is also a call to action for teachers, parents, and students to go outside, improve their school grounds and explore the world first-hand.”

The ISGA believes that school grounds should:
* provide powerful opportunities for hands-on learning
* nurture students’ physical, social and emotional development and wellbeing
* reflect and embrace their local ecological, social and cultural context
* embrace risk-taking as an essential component of learning and child development
* be open public spaces, accessible to their communities

The ISGA does this by:
* focusing on the way school grounds are used, designed and managed
* facilitating a dialogue about innovative research, design, education and policy
* fostering partnerships between professionals and organizations across the globe
* organizing international conferences, gatherings and other programs
* advocating for student and school community participation in the design, construction and stewardship of school grounds
* promoting the value of enriched school grounds as uniquely positioned, engaging environments for children

We are honored to have played a supporting role by cohosting the conference and of course by publishing Sharon’s book, Asphalt to Ecosystems, and hope you will join us in congratulating her and spreading this important message.

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