School Ground Greening
School ground greening is the process of transforming conventional school yards into sustainable, natural and healthy environments. The UGDSB is supporting schools to follow a school ground greening planning process to help improve and/or enhance the environmental quality and function of school grounds. Schools are encouraged to consider natural outdoor spaces to promote student learning and well-being.
Vision of the UGDSB Greening Committee:
“By creating engaging green spaces and opportunities for outdoor play during the school day, we will help students to become well-developed, healthy citizens. Unstructured outdoor play can help achieve this goal by impacting positively on physical health and mental well being and helping to develop curiosity and personal connection to the natural world.”
Upper Grand Schools are encouraged to use the UGDSB School Ground Greening Workbook and School Ground Greening Planning Chart. This workbook has been created to take the guesswork out of completing a greening project. It is full of valuable information that needed to make greening projects a success. The inspiration to green up your school grounds can come from many sources within the school community, including teachers, students and school council members. Once the ‘seeds’ of a project are created, a School Greening Committee should be organized. Depending on the size and scope of the project the committee will need to include a variety of stakeholders (i.e. students, school staff, parents and community members) to ensure that everyone’s voice is heard.
The Importance of Shade
The importance of increasing shade on the schoolyard is an essential factor to be considered. Skin cancer is the most common form of cancer in Ontario. Children are at school during the highest risk period of the day – between 10am and 4pm. UV radiation may also cause eye problems such as cataracts. The effects of heat exhaustion must also be mitigated, in light of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change findings that scientists expect climate change to increase global temperatures by 2 to 6 degrees by the end of the century.
UGDSB Green Up Your School Grants
UGDSB teachers – you are encouraged to apply for up to $400 towards an environmental project at your school generously donated by the board’s Plant Operations department. You could use the money to plant a tree, bring in a guest speaker, improve your shade garden, purchase educational materials, start a composting program, plant a garden, or come up with your own creative way to enrich student learning about the environment. Many grants can be used to support projects to gain certification points towards the Ontario EcoSchools program. Students become engaged in a range of environmental stewardship activities that work towards more sustainable and energy-efficient practices.
Grants may also support teachers in extending their classroom outdoors. Research had shown that outdoor learning not only enhances the physical and mental well-being of students, but also stimulates their natural curiosity and improves focus and engagement during the learning process.
Application Process fro a Green Up Your School Grant
Every year in March, you can apply for funding that is generously provided by the UGDSB’s Operations Department, by responding to a short survey and following the instructions to complete the paperless, on-line application. The yearly application deadline is usually March 31st.