Green STEAM and Play Camp at Green Playces

Screen Shot 2015-12-02 at 10.24.00 AMOur Green Playces Initiative is in year two and GTECH has successfully built out two sites (Northside and Homewood) and will complete sites in McKeesport, Allentown, the Hill District, and the City of Wilkinsburg by the end of this calendar year.

The original intent of this program was to partner with youth programs in areas of high vacancy to build an outdoor classroom or play space with input from youth and the community. The Green Playces Initiative started from investigating the presence of youth educational activities with an environmental focus in places with the most amount of vacant land. That research, enabled by the Heinz Endowments’ Children, Youth & Families Program, took form in the Youth In Green report.  The research showed that communities with the most amount of vacant, blighted land have little to no youth educational activities with an environmental focus. Further, the lack of green space in proximity to existing youth facilities perpetuates a further disconnect between youth and their physical environment. GTECH sought to address this clear gap in educational services and physical assets through the Green Playces Initiative. The Initiative was launched in 2015 to provide five communities with outdoor play spaces or outdoor classrooms, as well as supply environmental education opportunities for underserved populations.

Homewood Green Playce

After working through a community-driven design process with youth and community partners, GTECH works to build out vacant spaces and transform them into places that can be utilized by the community and the partners.  GTECH looks to partner with outside organizations to bring environmental education opportunities to the spaces.  Our partner at the Bible Center Church took their newly created outdoor space and created an environmental STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) camp based around the site.

Bible Center’s 5 week summer camp, Green STEAM & Play, served as an exciting opportunity for 20 elementary aged students to learn about the environment and green technologies during summer recess. Green STEAM & Play utilized the outdoor classroom for lessons on soil and the parts of plants, stormwater runoff, and healthy cooking using ingredients that were grown in the outdoor classroom. On the last day of camp, the outdoor classroom served as the site for the student showcase. Families, friends, and community members gathered in the space to see the youth present their model cities, which included green roofs and permeable pavement designs. Attendees also enjoyed healthy refreshments, including fresh greens grown by the campers.

The youth that attended Green STEAM & Play left with new knowledge about how stormwater runoff affects their city and how they can do their part to keep themselves and their communities healthy. -Ariella Donelan, Program Manager, Bible Center Church

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