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Bringing Nature to Life: Creating an Early Childhood Research Facility at Humber
July 31, 2014
Through Humber College Institute of Technology & Advanced Learning’s ‘Bringing Nature to Life project,’ an outdoor learning environment has been created at one of Humber’s Child Care Centres. Supported by the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation and in partnership with Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds, the School of Health Sciences and Humber Applied Research & Innovation have converted a traditional plastic and steel playground into a naturalized play space for young children to connect with nature. This playground has facilitated the introduction of a community gardening program at the Centre and is enhancing the environmental education of children and the training of early childhood educators.
This outdoor learning environment is not only a natural playground for children at Humber’s Child Care Centres, but also a research facility where Humber faculty and students can study the impacts of natural outdoor educational spaces on early childhood development. With this space, Humber researchers can now collect data on how children interact with nature. Comparing this information with baseline data collected in the previous traditional playground could lead to exciting discoveries about how children’s safety and childhood play behaviors are affected by nature. Humber students from multiple academic schools and programs have already benefited from this project through participation in research activities and playground design, and students will continue to have meaningful experiential learning opportunities as research and training continues in this innovative outdoor learning lab.
“This project, with such a diverse and professional group of educators, has reaffirmed my belief that this cause, this movement, can unify the rich, poor, left and right like no other. Throughout this project, Humber has shown their commitment to working together with industry to provide the research, programming, and physical space that will positively affect the entire childcare industry.
“TD FEF played a critical role in this partnership by providing much needed funds as we grappled with the budget, but their more significant contribution was the validity that their partnership lent to our project. As a leader in the environment and education sector, TD FEF continue to be the perfect partner to work with as we strive to connect the next generation of children to nature. We look forward to years of collaboration with all of the partners as this project reaches its full potential to inspire future generations of Early Childhood Educators.” -Adam Bienenstock, CEO, Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds.
Funding for this project has been provided by: