In May 2016, all licensed child care centres in Niagara were invited to an information session highlighting the initiative at ACW Child Care – Woodlawn in Welland. The session coincided with the ribbon cutting ceremony of Woodlawn, one of the 4 Pilot Sites selected in 2015 to help the ECCDC trial the service.
After the information session, the ECCDC in consultation with the Bienenstock Team and Niagara Region Children’s Services, designed and distributed an Expression of Interest/Application form to all child care centres to obtain details such as estimated budget, partnerships, staff training, age groups served, and goals for what they hoped to achieve with their playground naturalization. 22 programs were selected to participate and the impact of the initiative will support over 700 children within licensed childcare!
The ECCDC Team visited each of the 22 sites to interview and videotape the children and staff interacting in their current playground space. The children were given the opportunity to take photos and inform the interviewers of what they enjoyed about their current space. Pre- and post-project data will be used to document the journey of Niagara’s early learning community to a naturalized outdoor environment.