Educare of Oklahoma City, other educational organizations and community leaders emphasize the need for beautifying schools across the city. With the majority of childhood development occurring before a child enters school, children must be exposed to educational opportunities starting at birth or risk falling behind.
Educare programs aim to serve disadvantaged children by helping them develop, which includes providing students with beautiful and healthy environments that enhance learning and instill an appreciation for nature and the environment. Many of us likely take it for granted that we live, work and learn in clean, healthy and refreshing environments. However, this is a luxury many kids in the Educare program rarely get to experience — until now.
Beautiful landscaping and clean facilities can help accelerate the learning process for many young students. These precious children deserve to be exposed to beautiful trees and flowers. In addition to enhancing general early childhood development, the beautification of school sites also can provide children lessons on the importance of self-respect, environmental awareness and community involvement.
In addition to the direct benefit to students, fragile neighborhoods on the brink of collapse are resurfacing with more pride than ever. A perfect example is the Educare street median designed by Total Environment’s Linda Horn. Once the beautiful, useful and educational landscape was installed, the residents in this blighted area began planting trees, shrubs and flowers, along with mowing and caring for their properties as best they could afford.
Children and their parents watched as the work was being done, and some asked great questions of the installation crew. They were thrilled about the improvements and continue to keep a close eye on the area. Parents, grandparents and kids utilize the large median for walking and visiting, and trash and graffiti now rarely are problems. Kids sit under the trees after school to await their parents.
Total Environment works with many nonprofit organizations, donating consulting time and designs to help facilitate and extend Educare’s teaching. We have used animal-shaped topiary shrubs (the size of kids), miniature (kid-sized) fruit trees, fragrant and edible herbs, colorful flowers and shade trees to move learning out of doors and complement school play areas. Other features include a raised vegetable garden, along with grapevines for shade and fruit; Before the Educare project, many of these children had never tasted a fresh-picked fruit or vegetable. In addition, the window boxes in the outdoor play houses have real flowers watered by drip irrigation. Kids love to smell them, even if they are not scented.