Toyota and Evergreen partnership brings outdoor learning to life on over 6,000 Canadian school grounds

Since 2000 this innovative program has helped connect 1.2 million students to nature

TORONTO, Nov. 21, 2016 /CNW/ - One of Evergreen's longest standing partnerships and largest educational initiatives, the Toyota Evergreen Learning Grounds (TELG) program continues to help Canadian students and teachers transform their school grounds into healthy places to learn, play and connect with nature. This year, the national program led by Evergreen with support from Toyota Canada and its dealerships, helped 559 schools with their efforts to green their outdoor spaces, engaging 48,245 students and staff.

The TELG program is at the forefront of the school ground greening movement. Since 2000, the partnership has provided millions of dollars of support through hands-on expertise, training, publications and grants to over 6,000 schools across Canada, reaching close to 1.2 million elementary and secondary school students and 96,000 teachers and school staff. The scope of the TELG's impact inspired Evergreen to cofound the International School Ground Alliance in 2011.

Green school grounds aim to inspire discovery and learning, increase physical activity, motivate teachers and students, and support environmental awareness and stewardship.

Each project offers a unique opportunity for schools to engage with the greater community, including the active support role many Toyota dealerships have played in their local service areas.

"Through this innovative long-standing initiative, students and staff each year have access to expert hands-on environmental learning and the unique opportunity to design and create their school's new outdoor space," says Geoff Cape, Evergreen CEO. "Toyota's incredible commitment to this work continues to encourage a life-long passion for play and learning in nature that builds a caring relationship with the natural world – a foundation for building sustainable and flourishing cities."

"Toyota's commitment to enriching communities and establishing a future society in harmony with nature is at the core of our collaboration with Evergreen," says Larry Hutchinson, President and CEO, Toyota Canada Inc. "Toyota Canada is proud of the impact the Toyota Evergreen Learning Grounds program has had over the past 16 years, providing everyday opportunities for students to engage with nature on Canada's school grounds."

This year, for its 25th anniversary, Evergreen launched the Evergreen City Builders Awards and partnered with Toyota to recognize outstanding innovation in children's nature playgrounds with the Toyota Playground Placemaker Award. The award recipient, Sandy Clee, Senior Planner at the Simcoe County District School Board in Midhurst, Ontario supported the transformation of 87 early year schoolyards from barren outdoor expanses to dynamic natural play and learning spaces.

Schools participating in the 2015-2016 TELG program have realized their greening goals with a wide variety of outdoor improvements such as a year-round outdoor classroom in North Vancouver, a food and pollinator garden for kindergarten students in Montreal, and an edible garden in Saskatoon to help students and families to learn about and participate in sustainable food growing practices.

Some of the 2015-2016 schools that have received grants to green their outdoor spaces: (For a link to the full list of schools funded in 2015-2016, visit: https://www.evergreen.ca/get-involved/funding-opportunities/school-ground-grants/)

École Rockingham School, Halifax, NS
École Rockingham School has been funded three times through the Toyota Evergreen Learning Grounds program. Each year building on the previous year's work, with newest features including native species of trees for shade, shrub gardens, raised beds for food gardening, stump seating and a log walk under the shade of the existing mature trees. Students held the original vision for the space, and the wider community helped make it a reality. The entire school takes part in lessons outdoors in the shaded seating area lovingly named "The Grove."

Service de garde de l'école St-Zotique, Montréal, QC
The École St-Zotique's new school ground addresses the pressing issue of food insecurity in the community. Building from a successful food garden project funded in part by the TELG program in 2015, the daycare, with the help of community parents, plans to create a green corridor of edible native shrubs and plants, pollinator-friendly plants and raised vegetable beds. The school has partnered with the éco-quartier Sud-Ouest (an environment and action program introduced by the city of Montréal) to assist with plant selection and guiding their community planting events.

Rockwood Pubic School, Pembroke, ON
Rockwood Public School's new outdoor space features a unique natural wetland, lovingly called "The Swamp." New seating and shade trees will improve access and usability to this dynamic outdoor learning space. The new outdoor classroom, developed in collaboration with Rockwood students and Algonquin College, was the site of a recent Earth Day bio blitz, where different species of wildlife were identified, counted and catalogued. 

Confederation Park Community School, Saskatoon, SK
Confederation Park Community School has a six-year history of school food gardening. Twenty raised garden beds, eight in-ground garden beds, an edible food forest and other initiatives teach pre-kindergarten to grade 8 curriculum, including a Nêhiyâwiwin Cree Language and Culture Program. TELG funding this year helps students and their families learn about food sustainability practices and engage in life-long learning.

Highlands Elementary, North Vancouver, BC
Teachers at Highlands Elementary have created an outdoor learning space with new native species of trees for shade and plants that have a long history of being used by First Nations in the area. The long-term vision includes installing natural stone boulders and logs for seating and play, and a dry river bed to facilitate teaching around water ecosystems. Youth groups in the neighbourhood such as Girl Guides and Scouts will also access the space for their activities.

Application deadlines for the 2016-2017 TELG program are February 10 and April 13, 2017.

For more details and how to apply visit: https://www.evergreen.ca/get-involved/funding-opportunities/school-ground-grants/

About Evergreen: Since 1991, Evergreen, a not-for-profit, has provoked bold action in transforming public landscapes into thriving community spaces. We believe that connecting people, natural and built worlds create flourishing cities for the future. For more than 25 years Evergreen has connected, collaborated, and catalyzed Canadians to do amazing things positively affecting attitudes and behaviours that lie at the core of a sustainable city.

For more information visit www.evergreen.ca

About Toyota Canada Inc.: 
Toyota Canada Inc. (TCI) is the exclusive Canadian distributor of Toyota and Lexus vehicles, with a national network of 286 dealerships servicing customers from coast to coast. Being a leader in the automotive industry does not simply start and end with making great vehicles. It also means investing in the communities in which we live, work and play. With a long-standing commitment to environment, education and safety in Canada, TCI is dedicated to supporting like-minded organizations such as Evergreen.

http://www.toyota.ca

SOURCE Evergreen

Image with caption: "Toyota and Evergreen partnership brings outdoor learning to life on over 6,000 Canadian school grounds. (CNW Group/Evergreen)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20161121_C3575_PHOTO_EN_823364.jpg

For further information: Media Contacts: Evergreen: LeaAnne Ross, Creative Director, 416-596-1495 x 249, Mobile: 647-406-5336, lross@evergreen.ca; Toyota: Michael Bouliane, Manager, Corporate Communications, External Affairs | Toyota Canada Inc., 416-438-6320 x8326, M: 416-459-9469, michael_bouliane@toyota.ca

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