Children need to interact with nature to appreciate and become good stewards of the environment. Children at New Hope Academy are growing gardens and playing in unique nature-based playgrounds that include a labyrinth, outdoor musical instruments, and living willow structures. Our 8-acre wooded campus is a living outdoor laboratory for environmental education.
Partnering with the University of Maryland’s Landscape and Storm Water Management Departments our students have worked with undergrad and graduate students to design and plan nature playgrounds and gardens. In the process we discovered significant storm water management issues on our land and the adjacent Town of Landover Hills property. We applied for and have been awarded several grants, from Chesapeake Bay Trust and the EPA and are now entering the implementation phase for green solutions to these issues, including bio-swells, rain gardens, permeable pavers, a demonstration green roof and cisterns.
In preschool the children begin planting gardens, and harvesting and eating their bounty. Composting, recycling programs, time for ample recess and physical activities, and lessons on nutrition all help the students to appreciate the miracle of life. The students learn how to take responsibility for their personal health as well as the wellbeing of the natural world around them.