Kids dig Nelson Mandela greening project

Not your typical garden club

With school grounds often resembling parking lots rather than places of inspiration and learning, the need to bring nature back to students is a growing concern for many parents and teachers.

Nelson Mandela Park Public School is addressing the issue through the school’s greening committee. The garden project, begun by students of Nelson Mandela Park many years ago, was recently damaged by much-needed exterior renovations made to the 90-year old school. Because of the dedication and interest of the student body, plans to repair the garden are well underway.

The school’s garden club, now grown to over 45 students, dedicates every Tuesday after-school to team plantings to recreate their very own outdoor classroom as a place to reconnect with nature and each other.

“Giving our students the opportunity to get involved and learn through nature is an important priority for us,” says Jean Rehder, teacher and coordinator of the club. “We believe it will really enhance our students’ appreciation for the environment, as we involve them in the care of their special place for both play and instructional time.”

To help support this project, a grant of $600 was provided through the national Toyota Evergreen Learning Grounds program. Hardeep Sidhu of Downtown Toyota presented the school with the funds.

“It’s community projects like these that make everyone at Downtown Toyota so proud to continue supporting the program,” says Sidhu. “We’ve been given the privilege to see first-hand how meaningful greener schools are for the children.”

“Bringing nature to the schoolyard gives students an opportunity to truly experience the world around them—which is a much richer experience than sitting inside and reading about it in a textbook,” says Ed Malabre, school principal. “It’s an important aspect of the learning experience we offer at Nelson Mandela Park and we want to continue showcasing this great attribute of ours as a model school for inner cities.”

Photo: Hardeep Sidhu of Downtown Toyota presents grant provided through the national Toyota Evergreen Learning Grounds Program to Jean Rehder, teacher and co-ordinator of the Nelson Mandela Park Garden Club, to help add more green to their school grounds. Photo courtesy of Evergreen.