By Lea Jorgensen
I’m sure that many of you reading this have attended the Yearley Outdoor Education Centre as a student, parent volunteer, or even a teacher during the 40-plus years that it has been run, offering outdoor education experiences to our grade 6 students and other user groups within the Trillium Lakelands District School Board.
Therefore, you’ll understand why this is such an outrageous decision, to close Yearley at a time when outdoor education is needed now more than ever before. We desperately need places such as Yearley, where children can go to learn experientially, spend time in nature, and reconnect with themselves.
On the heels of a two-and-a-half-year pandemic, which has left our children unable to attend Yearley, we are now seeing the direct impact of nature deprivation and the loss of meaningful group learning experiences outside the classroom. In addition to learning about our natural environment and how to care for our planet during a climate crisis, we need to attend to our mental health now more than ever and not let it slide further into chronic instability. Many studies suggest this is most successfully done with connections to nature and nature-based programming!
To close such a valuable learning centre and nature program is so deeply wrong on so many levels. We have seen from past experience what happens when we let amazing facilities, like Yearley, go. The Frost Centre in Dorset is a good example, never to return or be re-opened again, with all those great connections to nature lost to our students well into the future.
We can’t let this happen to the Yearley Outdoor Education Centre. The future health and well-being of our students should take priority right now rather than cutting such a valuable program and facility!
If you feel compelled to let TLDSB’s director (Wes Hann) and the Board’s trustees (Chair Bruce Reain) know how upsetting this decision is to you, and how imperative it is to keep Yearley operating, this is the time to speak up.
Please share this message with others who know of Yearley and who have a strong belief that our outdoor spaces and programs are worthy of saving. Yearley needs your support, and we need to stick together with our beliefs that outdoor education needs to continue within TLDSB and for all of our children!
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