Charity Update - June 2022
The sun is high and the days are long, and it's especially times like these when everyone in any part of the world deserves to discover the joys of the outdoors - and so this month we've been working with with The Learning Center K-8 School, an organisation across the pond in Western Pennsylvania, USA!
Founded in 2011, The Learning Center K-8 School is an authentic natural based learning organisation focusing on young children and adolescents from pre-school age to 12-13.
Read on to find out more about the exciting work that The Learning Center K-8 School and it's Forest School program do!
The Learning Center looks to develop several areas of child development, specifically creative development, curiosity and investigation, individuality, exploration and communication, and this is achieved through various classroom and outdoors activities. The ethos of the school is as such: "We work cooperatively to create a hands-on learning atmosphere that is safe, supports risk-taking, and invites the sharing of ideas. All voices are valued and welcomed in our inter-generational school community."
The Learning Center strongly believes in the benefits of adopting Forest School ideals and activities, citing that;
"Our predominant approach to outdoor learning will be through the philosophy of Forest School.
Forest School is a specific process in which children are given the space to engage with the natural world on their own terms. In the words of the UK-based Forest School Association, 'Forest School is a child-centered inspirational learning process that offers opportunities for holistic growth through regular sessions. It is a long-term program that supports play, exploration and supported risk taking. It develops confidence and self-esteem through learner-inspired, hands-on experiences in a natural setting.'
The Forest School approach is a perfect match for The Learning Center’s educational philosophy, where children have the opportunity to shape their own learning."
Simon Camp, a Teacher and Forest School Leader at The Learning Center, explains more about the Forest School, it's activities and it's aims;
"Through multi-age classrooms and a curriculum infused with the arts, outdoor learning and sustainability the school allows students to become confident and independent while developing a true passion for learning.
In 2021 the school moved into our forever home, a place we quickly made our own both inside and out. We are very lucky to have 4 acres of land and in one short year have planted over 100 trees, started our apiary with two bee hives, planted a vegetable garden, and over 1000 square feet of wildflower meadow. We have installed rain barrels and a small solar electric system that helps charge our laptop computers and last year we were awarded a grant through Green Mountain Energy’s Sun Club to build a sustainable timber framed outdoor classroom.
This academic year also saw the launching of our Forest School program, following the principles of the British Forest School Association. Each of the 80+ students spends a whole afternoon out in the woods every other week throughout the school year. In western PA this means everything from hot wet summer days to bitterly cold winters with 2 feet of snow on the ground. By dressing appropriately and using our knowledge, environment and equipment we have managed to have fun all year long.
At Forest School the students are given the autonomy to lead their own journey whether making a fire for warm drinks or searching in the creek for snakes and crayfish. The children take responsibility for their time and through regular sessions with the same people develop a connection to the woods and those around them. Our first year of Forest School has been a huge success in many aspects however one clear winner has been the DD hammocks that we have on hand. I have used DD hammocks and tarps both personally and at Forest School for about 10 years and they have always proved a favorite as well as being durable enough to withstand the rigors of many excited children.
The Learning Center is extremely grateful for DD’s donation of hammocks and tarps and we look forward to another great year of Forest School with even more hammocks swinging in the woods."
We sincerely hope that our donation of DD Charity Edition Hammocks and Tarps are thoroughly enjoyed by the children and young people at The Learning Center's Forest School branch, and that Simon and co can continue their outdoors learning for many more years to come!
Do you know of a charity or group that focuses on the outdoors and helping those less fortunate enjoy the many positives of the natural world?
If you think they would benefit from some free sets of hammocks and tarps, plus a spot on the DD Charity Blog to showcase their work, services and successes, we want to hear from you!
Help us help others in need, and get involved by getting in touch with us via our DD Charity contact form.
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About the writer
A regular on the hiking trails of Northern Scotland, Vikki loves nothing more than being in the great outdoors. When she's not pulling on her hiking boots or trail shoes, this DD Team Member can often be spotted in the gym or curled up at home with a sketchpad and pencil.