Background

This project addresses the need to connect people to their ecosystems and to Indigenous cultures, while they are still very young. Research has demonstrated that outdoor play in natural areas contributes to children’s emotional and physical health, helps them to understand their importance in maintaining ecological biodiversity, and enhances their learning of ecological concepts. This project will increase capacity amongst adults, especially teachers, but also families, for building, maintaining, and interacting within natural areas, and respecting Indigenous cultures for their ways of living with the land.

Goals

  1. Improve the environment: Recreate a native prairie, with as much biodiversity as possible
  2. Educational: Increase understanding of First Nations’ culture
  3. Educational: Model experiential learning in a naturalized area
  4. Outreach and engagement

Main activities

Host planning workshops with local experts and interested individuals; host clearing, planting, building sessions with local experts and community members; invite children, teachers, teacher candidates, university faculty to visit the garden to observe children’s play and the advantages of ecological diversity; create a video of the building of the garden and of children playing in it; host celebrations for volunteers/participants.

Results

Create an outdoor natural play area with Indigenous cultural features; a teaching space for teacher candidates and demonstration space for in-service teachers; a video of the building and use of the garden; a website featuring this aspect of the Prairie Habitat Garden with suggested materials and activities; increased capacity for and interest in creating natural play spaces for children; enhanced understanding of Indigenous relationships with the land.