“Let’s Play Outside Again”

I have been volunteering at the CDC on a regular basis since my youngest child graduated from high school in 2013. My weekly volunteer duties transitioned from PTA, Band Boosters, and Sport Boosters to feeding, rocking, and interacting with infants and toddlers. Fast forward several years and I became a member of the CDC Advisory Committee, The Rainbow Makers, and helped the CDC administration form a committee to research options for renovating the playground. The playground had been home to thousands of little hands and feet over the past 20 years and was quickly showing signs of disrepair and unsafe conditions.

The Department of Health and Human Services Division of Child Development and Early Education has numerous pages of rules and regulations for outdoor play. Over the past 20 years more rules with rigorous guidelines have been added.  We soon became aware that reconfiguring or renovating the current outdoor play space was not as easy as it seemed.

We are very excited to be where we are today with the impressive new concept of creating an Outdoor Learning Environment.  We are most thankful to have collaborated with Catawba’s Center for the Environment and NC State’s Natural Learning Initiative Team to make this dream a reality.

The proposed Outdoor Learning Environment (OLE) will bring joy and tremendous learning opportunities for children who may not have the advantage of exploring in a backyard. The preschool children will be able to smell flowers, watch butterflies, plant vegetable gardens, turn over rocks to find a wiggly worm, sit on wooden stumps for story time, learn to ride a tricycle, skip through a grass maze, make a stew in the nature kitchen with sticks, leaves, and maybe even add some mud to that stew…

The infants and toddlers will be in their own little areas tucked safely near the building with age appropriate natural items that will engage their senses with outdoor exploration. Moving these two age groups closer to the building will allow more freedom to explore the outdoors in a safer location off Innes Street.

The after-school children and the teachers will also have their own space for outdoor enjoyment. At times, we ALL need to take a break from today’s technology and breathe in what God gives to us in nature.

Special thanks to the following committee members who have given many hours to this project: Judy Childress, Gary and Sally Taylor, Michael DeNise, Steve Jarrett, Chris McNeely, Gary Rhodes, Cindy Fink, Jeanie Moore, Mike Agee, Ruth Ann Diehl, Jon Koppe, Pastor Rhodes, Pastor Laura, and Courtney Bost (CDC executive director).

Thank you for supporting this project with your prayers and your resources.

“Let’s play outside again”

Amy Ritchie

Click here to view the plans for the Outdoor Learning Environment.

Would you like to contribute to the campaign?
Send your gift by Sept. 15- marked “Outdoor Learning Environment.”
Thank you!


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