College Miles Macdonell Collegiate Depave Outdoor Classroom
Our project was designed to provide an outdoor learning space that students and teachers can access and a place for the over 1200 students that attend the school to spend time outdoors and connect with nature. We tore up a part of the parking lot and transformed a 62m2 section into a greenspace as a part of a national initiative called, Depave Paradise. It is also integral to our work to promote truth and reconciliation through education as the indigenous learning circle is an important step in terms of incorporating traditional teachings in our school community.
This project all started back in the fall when a local organization, Climate Change Connection, approached our ESD (Education for Sustainable Development) student group to see if we would be interested in depaving a 100 square metre area of our parking lot to turn it into a greenspace to provide our students with more opportunities to connect with the land. Additionally, by removing the concrete from the parking and replacing it with native plants, we would be restoring the land and helping to improve natural drainage systems. In addition to depaving the 100 square metre area, our group decided to take on the entire area behind our school library to create a large outdoor learning space complete with pathways, benches and an indigenous learning circle. Our ESD student group was beyond excited to take this on, and in collaboration with teacher leaders they came up with an amazing design plan for the space. With the support of the school division (RETSD), as well as grants from Depave Paradise, the Manitoba Teachers Society, the Learning for a Sustainable Future Foundation and Rising Youth we were able to secure the funds to make this project a reality. After the area was depaved and prepared by a contractor, our group recruited over 60 volunteers to work in the hot sun all day on June 23rd to complete the work and we are extremely impressed by the finished project.
Reflection & Celebration
Every part of the project was exciting- from the countless hours of planning and orgnanizing from our amazing student leaders to the actual Depave day when we actually transformed the space. Early on in the project we divided our students into four committees- Fundraising, Logistics, Communications and Volunteers. Students took on leadership roles in each of these committees and did everything from writing grants, helping to select the plants and design the space, organizing volunteer crews and supplies, taking pictures, making videos, writing press releases and designing the sign to commemorate the project. It was so exciting to see students come together after having to be apart for so long to create an amazing change for our school community.