Raising healthy kids is child’s play

Local kindergarten spearheads effort to green Vancouver's schoolyards.

Credit: CEFA

Local kindergarten spearheads effort to green Vancouver’s schoolyards

When it comes to children playing, much attention is paid to the what and the how. But where kids play is important, too.

Vancouver’s urban density has made it quite difficult to find a suitable space for school grounds, let alone one that provides a desirable play area that doesn’t face a back alley or busy roadway.

Which is why Natacha Beim, an early childhood educator and founder of Core Education and Fine Arts (CEFA), is urging schools to be proactive and work on bringing nature into concrete playgrounds.

Studies have proven that a child’s overall health and well-being increases when they are connected to nature,” says Beim.

And losing contact with the natural environment has been linked to loss of physical activity, increased stress, attention deficit and a decline in health (PDF).

Importance of green play space for children

Greening Our Playgrounds launch

Saturday, May 15, 12:30-2:30 p.m.
CEFA, 2946 Commercial Dr, Vancouver
Open to the community

On May 15, CEFA will be launching its “Greening Our Playgrounds” initiative at the official grand opening of its first junior kindergarten school in Vancouver. The project—which organizers hope will inspire a larger movement—aims to rally the support of local naturists, gardeners, environmental organizations and community groups to transform the school’s concrete urban play area into a green play space. Former Vancouver mayor Sam Sullivan is slated to appear.

Various forms of support are needed: landscaping donations, plant donations, expert advice on incorporating nature into the classroom curriculum, and volunteer hours in planning and implementing gardening activities for the kids.

Advantages of green play spaces

The goal behind letting kids play in as natural a setting as possible, besides beautifying the schoolyard, is to initiate a ripple effect in creating a healthy lifestyle. As they begin to draw the connection between having fun and being close to nature, children become more inclined to seek out outdoor activities. The more they play outside, the higher their level of physical exercise, which in turn boosts fitness and well-being.

Furthermore, the more time they spend enjoying a positive experience in a green environment and having hands-on fun in planting a garden, the more kids learn to appreciate and respect nature.

It’s never too early to start instilling this sense of responsibility as an eco-citizen. After all, we are talking about those who will literally be inheriting the earth.