Growing Our Community
Our vision for Canada is a beautiful outdoor space that can be shared by everyone in our community, and fosters appreciation of nature and sustainable practices.
Growing our Community is a three-level approach to achieve three specific outcomes for our school and community: increasing community spirit by creating inclusive spaces for people to connect; developing areas of our grounds to promote networking and social opportunities with the surrounding community; and, beginning new school-based and community-based projects with the end goal of learning and collaboration.
This will done through: a Community Connections space – buddy benches and outdoor game tables; a Community growth circle – a space for outdoor learning, which has been shown to increase learning outcomes and reduce stress; and, a Community Education area, which would combine a learning experience with mindfulness through our planned butterfly garden.
We believe this is a unique approach in our area – one that will not only create a new level of connection and partnership between our school and the community, but also inspire other schools in our community to connect with their neighbours.
By engaging with our school community and other stakeholders in the community from start to finish, this project will build stronger relationships, foster environmental awareness and sustainability, as well as educate our students through tangible, hands-on planning and programming.
Our work on this project so far has given students an opportunity to dig in and get their hands dirty. Our Grade 2 students planted seeds, Grade 3 students took care of seeds in their class, and Kindergarten students learned about and shared their perspective on bees and pollinators. This also fostered stronger relationships between students as our Grade 4 & 5 buddies helped Grade 1 students with their planting.
We have also purchased the benches for the Community Connections space. Now that spring has finally sprung in Calgary, we will be installing the benches and planting our butterfly garden with the seeds our elementary students are lovingly growing in their classrooms.
Our little project is already far-reaching in our community. The local 93rd Girl Guides have committed to helping tend our garden and take care of the space. A local home-schooling family heard about our project and wanted to get involved too, and some of our school families have been so inspired by what’s happening in the school that they’re building their own gardens. One family even turned their front yard into a naturalized space while another purchased a pollinator home.
We hope to secure additional funding to complete our project with the purchase and installation of outdoor game tables, though we know this project will always need careful tending during the spring and summer to continue to flourish and remain a vibrant and inviting space for bees, butterflies, children and adults alike.
Reflection & Celebration
We are very excited about our progress so far, and looking forward to getting all of the work done to date into the ground! The beauty of this project is that it can continue to grow – in a few years, we should have a truly beautiful naturalized space that will be enjoyed by students, and a source of pride for our whole community. We are truly thankful to Learning for a Sustainable Future’s EcoLeague project funding for giving us the means to kick start this project. Thanks to their support, we expect to have sprouted many green thumbs in our school and community!