This project was created in February of 2021 with the goal of incorporating Social Emotional Learning (SEL) into Harry Kizirian Elementary School's curriculum and programming. The project is designed with 30 minute sessions for both small groups (5 students) and large groups (whole classes). This layered program design has helped to create a team mentality within each group, allowing the students to have personal responsibility while also being collaborative and team players. This aspect of the program has been a huge success as many children who are often disinterested and uninvolved in school and community activities are becoming very passionate and proactive in relation to the garden. In addition to that, student are becoming much more connected to the plants, animals, and people around them. Since SEL is being incorporated into our program, the various activities planned and executed have provided the students with an understanding of their personal effect on not only the environment, but in the community in which they live.
What challenges did or does your project face?
Our project is designed, lead, and executed by two members of the Attendance Improvement Matters Program through Americorps and Family Service of Rhode Island. Due to the nonprofit foundation of the program, we lack a lot of necessary funding needed to buy various gardening tools and resources for activities. With extra support, we would be able to execute our program much more seamlessly and in the best way possible for the students to get the most out of the program as possible.
How are you working to overcome them?
We have been creative with the resources we do have access to and are trying or best to fully execute our vision using said limited resources. However, we are worried that the plant yield will not be as successful as hoped due to the lack of personnel and financial support. We are doing our best, but are hoping for some outside assistance so that we can best meet the needs of these students during a very challenging time for kids in general following the pandemic.
What did you or your project learn this season that might be useful to others as well?
Our project has learned the importance of providing children with an opportunity to be a leader and a decision-maker. We have noticed that by empowering our students with control over a project that effects the community around them has given them a passion for helping the community and taking initiative.