By: Nora Fox
When Judy Myers and Sara Langworthy applied for and were awarded the Issue Area Grant through the University of Minnesota Extension over a year and a half ago, they had no idea how large and expansive the "Healthy Bodies, Healthy Minds, Healthy Learners" project would become! Through some concerted community partnership efforts, backed by countless, passionate individuals, the branches of the Bruce Vento tree continue to grow at a rapid pace. Partnerships have been formed with a number of community organizations, including Second Harvest Heartland, Marnita's Table, Saint Paul Police Department, Family Innovations, and various departments within the Saint Paul Public School District and the University of Minnesota.
We are excited to announce another grant awarded to the Bruce Vento team through the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of Minnesota. IonE called for submissions fall of this year for their Mini Grants competition, offering grants in alignment with the program's goal "to encourage risk taking, collaboration, and experimentation across disciplines, units, or campuses at the University of Minnesota." For further details on IonE's various grant and fellowship opportunities, visit their website: Fellowships & Grants.
Judy Myers, Sara Langworthy, Abimbola Asojo, Jean Larson, and Scott Masini joined forces to apply for the grant in hopes of creating an expert planning team, complete with interdisciplinary professionals within the University and Saint Paul Public School District, to draft a plan for creating nature-based, educational and therapeutic spaces for Bruce Vento Elementary school. The leadership team aims to plan and prepare for implementation of such spaces, with the final goal of increasing wellness, student-learning and optimal health of all students at Bruce Vento.
Asojo, one of the lead partners in creating the Calming Room at Bruce Vento earlier this year, will serve as a consultant regarding natural space and interior design. We are thrilled to continue our work with Asojo and grateful for her extensive work experience as associate professor at the University's College of Design, Housing and Apparel.
Larson holds a number of impressive roles at the University, including assistant professor at the university Center for Spirituality and Healing and lead faculty at the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum's Nature-Based Therapeutic Services Program. Larson is a both a certified therapeutic recreation specialist and registered horticultural therapist. We are grateful to have her expertise and consultation regarding both horticulture and healing environmental design.
The team is more than excited to explore opportunities for creating natural learning spaces both inside and outside the school building for children to learn about nature in a therapeutic environment.
Principal Scott Masini, as well as other Saint Paul Public Schools building maintenance staff, will serve as key contributors in deciding next steps in creating natural learning spaces that best support the needs and strengths of the Bruce Vento community. Within the next nine to twelve months, the team partners will hold meetings to work towards developing an expert-led and research-informed plan, including approaching potential funders, leveraging existing partners resources, and thoughtfully engaging with the community of Bruce Vento to support the creation of natural learning spaces.
For more information on the IonE Mini Grants and the awarded proposals, check out this blog post: New Mini Grants fund energy, education, health & more.
If you want to learn more about the great work happening at Bruce Vento Elementary School and how you can be involved, check out our project website. And be sure to follow us on Twitter (@CYFCumn), and subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Healthy Minds, Healthy Bodies, Healthy Learners is an ongoing partnership between the Extension Children, Youth, and Family Consortium and the Bruce Vento Elementary School. Together, along with many other partners, we are developing engaging learning environments that promote student learning and wellness.