March 13, 2015 - 2:29 PM
NORTH OKANAGAN - It’s not always easy in cash-strapped times for teachers to find spare change for programs, but a group in the North Okanagan has found a way to think outside the box.
The Outdoor Learning program in the North Okanagan and Shuswap, unlike many other courses in School District 83 such as the cancelled adult education program, is actually expanding. The group has established various programs, organized professional development days for teachers, and facilitated a number of outdoor activities for students. As the popular program grows, the group is even looking at creating an outdoor school at the new North Fork Wild park in Malakwa.
They’re doing it all, in large part, through grants. In a presentation to the school board Mar. 10, Geoff Styles and Ceren Caner, two of the teachers who spearheaded the program said the group established itself as a foundation. The Shuswap Outdoor Learning Foundation received charitable status just this year.
“Times are hard for money in the district, and we know that, so we’re trying to be creative with how we go about getting kids outside,” Styles said.
With a grant and whatever the school district could scrape together, Outdoor Learning has been able to offer all expenses paid field trips for students.
Caner outlined numerous benefits to outdoor learning such as physical and emotional health, creativity, improved social behaviour, academic success, engagement and stewardship for the environment.
“When we talk about outdoor learning it’s not just about playing outside, it’s meaningful learning. You can teach through the curriculum when you’re teaching outside and most of the time it’s more engaging for the students,” Caner said.
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—This article was updated at 4:20 p.m. Mar. 15 to correct the name of the program to Outdoor Learning, from Outdoor Education, and to clarify that the group has not purchased new equipment for the resource centre.
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2015