Evergreen / 10 October 2014
The school community at École élémentaire publique Marie-Curie in Ottawa was motivated to re-make their school grounds because, where most people saw only asphalt, they saw opportunity. They knew that students attending Marie-Curie live in a nature-deficient area of inner-city Ottawa, and that an outdoor classroom for the students would benefit not only the school, but the wider community. Once they imagined what their grounds could look like underneath the asphalt, they did what over 3,000 other Canadian schools have done—they applied for funding through the Toyota Evergreen Learning Grounds program.
Students were involved in every step of the project, from imagining their school with nature, to planning and implementing the design of their new school grounds. For many of the students, working in the garden was their first opportunity to get their hands in the dirt and plant something. Cynthia Benjamin, a parent and one of the project’s leading participants, commented on the empowering nature of a project of this kind, saying “Student involvement in all aspects of this project taught them that their opinion matters, and that they can make the world a better place.”
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