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“Friends” With a Shared Love of Learning in the Great Outdoors

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Seneca’s King Observation Lab Teaching School (KOLTS) is a not your average early years childcare centre.

Set against a breathtaking backdrop of meadows, forests and wetlands in the heart of the Oak Ridges Moraine and based at King Campus, KOLTS is home to students in the Early Childhood Education diploma and bachelor’s degree programs and provides the opportunity to teach toddlers and preschoolers in a “forest school” setting, which focuses on land stewardship and appreciation for the great outdoors.

TD Friends of the Environment Foundation recognized the importance of this program with a donation to support infrastructure and curriculum development.

“We are thrilled to support this endeavour through our TD Common Ground initiative,” says Carolyn Scotchmer, Acting Executive Director of TD Friends of the Environment Foundation. “Green spaces are where communities come together to meet, talk and play and where people find common ground and connect.”

With the funding, KOLTS will revitalize its playground into natural and sustainable “playscapes,” where children can run, bike and explore nature. Community garden beds of fruits and vegetables will illustrate the growth cycle of food, while inspiring healthy eating at an early age. The new additions will be constructed by Seneca’s Environment Landscape Management students.

“When children play in nature, something magical occurs,” says Fran DeFilippis, Professor, Seneca’s School of Early Childhood Education. “Resiliency capacity and self-regulation increases; vital physical attributes such as coordination, balance and agility improve and risk taking is encouraged.”

The funding will also support the development of programming at the Forest School, where children and Seneca students spend time in the forest terrain and natural habitat as part of their learning experiences. The children are encouraged to engage in activities, such as balancing on logs, climbing trees, studying animals and observing local fauna.

The Forest School model moves away from a traditional classroom to a barrier-free environment that encourages community building skills such as problem solving, negotiation and emotional support. Through repeated exposure to the forest, children discover, explore and build intimate connections with the land the leads to their understanding environmental stewardship.

“At TD, our goal is to make a lasting impact through our contributions,” says Carolyn. “We know this revitalization project will serve to enrich each child’s experience at KOLTS, providing them with enhanced care, education and environmental knowledge.”

This is not the first time TD Bank Group has supported Seneca’s King Campus. In 2016, TD provided support for the capital funding for the infrastructure expansion at King Campus and the development of the TD Bank Group Elder Financial Planning program.

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