St. Joseph’s School Playground Renewal

You need only to do an online search of “mindfulness and nature” to find endless evidence to support the idea that somehow, at some very fundamental level, contact with the earth puts us in touch with the very best of ourselves. (If you’re searching right now, check out http://www.childrenandnature.org/.)

There is a plethora of information demonstrating that contact with nature is beneficial to mental wellbeing. Particularly for children, exposure to the natural world helps to develop emotional and behavioural resilience.

Which brings me to the schoolyard at my daughter’s school.

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That’s a whole lot of concrete and synthetic turf.

When my daughter entered JK there last year, I was impressed with many things (the teachers are excellent, the little school family is wonderful)… but I was deeply disappointed when I realized the state of the playground. So I started asking a few questions. I wondered why the yard was in this state. I suggested we try to change it. It felt like a bit of an uphill battle, because change is hard for everyone. I heard: “That won’t work. There is no better solution. We already tried everything.”

So I started digging, researching, and pushing. I dug more. I researched more. I pushed more. I discovered an amazing company called Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds, which designs and builds playscapes and greenspace for communities, schools, etc. I called them and had an amazing, inspiring conversation with owner, Adam Bienenstock. I knew this company was the right answer for our school.

I rallied a handful of other parents. I formed a playground committee. I challenged the school board to invest in something that would benefit the mental and physical health of the entire school community. It’s a financial issue, they told me.

 

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Rubber tire crumb infill from the turf field pools on the concrete.

 

What does this have to do with “mindful homemaking,” some may wonder. Simply put, everything. The reason I am a homemaker, the reason I breathe, is my children. I want a better world for them. I feel responsible for their daily environment, both at home and at school. I feel the community has a responsibility to all their children.

 

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Leftover tree stump and new sandboxes.

So now it’s fundraising. I’m dreaming up fundraisers like it’s my job.

I found an ‘Ontario produce’ school fundraiser. I’m selling potatoes and apples.

Bake sales. I’m baking cookies.

Grants. I’m searching for grants to write.

Donations. I’m compiling lists of businesses and individuals to hit up for donations.

Planning events.

**(Koo Koo Kangaroo, will you come and play a fundraiser concert for us? Our school loves you! Check out this crazy cute video.)**

Organizing committee meetings.

There is forward motion. I am hoping we will finally hire Bienenstock to design our new playground this fall. At some point. For now I’m in bureaucratic purgatory awaiting for signatures and phone calls and emails to get a topographical survey.

And in the meantime, our children are playing on this.

 

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But my biggest frustration is the inaction. We all agree this schoolyard is in need of repair, yet there are so many excuses, so much red tape, so little support. Who is to blame? The board? The ministry?

What investment could be more important?