The new Outdoor Learning Environment is Open!

By Susan Shinn Turner

The St. John’s Outdoor Learning Environment is open!

“We had a soft opening in February, and the kids are using it on a modified basis,” says Amy Ritchie, a member of the Child Development Center’s Advisory Committee, which first envisioned the new space. The CDC worked with the Natural Learning Initiative at N.C. State University to make the OLE a reality.

“We’ll have a grand opening once spring-like weather starts,” she says. “March weather is just so unpredictable.”

The new space is completely different from a traditional playground, Ritchie notes. “We have many different learning centers, and teachers have to be involved more. This is an extension of the classroom.”

Several of the center’s teachers have received specific certification for the OLE.

“The kids are very excited about it,” says Lonna Richardson, one of the interim directors at the CDC. “We got outside for exactly two days in February and then the rain came. We are very excited about what’s to come. It’s been a neat process to watch it all come together. And the cool part is that it’s an ongoing process.”

Come see the OLE!
The Grand Opening of the Child Development Center’s new Outdoor Learning Environment is set for April 24, 10 am – 12 pm  or Sunday, April 25, 2- 4 pm. St. John’s members are invited to come by and check it out!

You’ll get a close-up look into how this “natural playground” invites student interaction, discovery, and play. We’re excited to see which feature is your favorite!

Podcast Episode
Listen to the March podcast episode. Pastor Rhodes interviews Colleen McDaniel, who helped design and construct the CDC’s new Outdoor Learning Environment. Colleen owns The Inspired Garden, a landscaping company from the Badin Lake area.

“Colleen is creative, smart, and wonderfully gracious,” says Pastor Rhodes. “In many ways, her whole life has brought her to this moment. What a great partner she’s been.”

Listen to the full conversation by searching “Conversations that Matter” on Apple Podcast, iHeartRadio, Spotify and more.



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