Author of Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation, Sharon Danks, recently announced the launch of Green Schoolyards America, a new organization formed to inspire schoolyard transformation across America from bleak asphalt to green spaces full of life! Sharon hopes that Green Schoolyards America will encourage community engagement while promoting the idea that schoolyard transformation can be used to connect children with their local ecosystems, while maintaining a curiosity for adventure, and learning to nurture their surroundings first-hand.
Through Sharon’s tireless efforts and dedication to this worthwhile cause, the green schoolyard movement continues to grow, and Sharon speaks to the need for this growth in two articles published by the Children and Nature Network. The first article, “The Green Schoolyard Movement: Gaining Momentum Around the World,” outlines the physical and mental benefits of incorporating nature into schoolyards and play spaces. Sharon describes the significance of these spaces in stimulating healthy growth and development in children:
Schoolyards are now one of the only places many children are allowed to play outdoors on a daily basis, and they are increasingly important for fostering children’s health and development. With this in mind, I believe that schools have a responsibility to provide the next generation with outdoor experiences that help them develop their curiosity, their sense of adventure, a healthy lifestyle, and a love of nature.
Sharon also shares her views on how to successfully establish these green spaces and why it is important to do so:
Schoolyard greening creates rich environments that connect nature and environmental sustainability with place-based learning, hands-on curricula, and imaginative play, while building community…By teaching students to explore their environment with their hands, hearts, and minds—whether they are climbing into a tree house or diving into the challenges of the surrounding world—green schoolyards help us to plant seeds that will blossom as children grow up and help to shape an ecologically literate society.
In the second article in of her series, “Trends That Give Us Hope: The Power and Potential of Green Schoolyards,” Sharon continues to expand upon her discussion of the green schoolyard movement. She believes that:
If, as a society, we can turn our attention and resources toward creating school district-wide, ecological systems-based improvements to school grounds, we will make significant progress in addressing complex inter-related problems…The time is right to invest much more significantly in our school grounds across the country.
Sharon concludes both articles with an invitation to join the movement and participate in the growth of this important endeavor:
This is a call to scale up our green schoolyard work from coast to coast, and empower school districts to lead this paradigm shift with increased support from their communities, public institutions, local utilities, healthcare institutions and other like-minded organizations and partners.
Be sure to “like” the Asphalt to Ecosystems: Design Ideas for Schoolyard Transformation Facebook page for more information related to the book and the green schoolyard movement!