Friday, April 01, 2011

Natural Play for Teen Parents

This is a fast moving and exciting natural play project in North Portland. The Pathfinder Academy is an amazing program. Their students are engaged, staff supportive, and they draw dedicated volunteers and positive energy from their community. I just finished working up these two site plans for their play area. It is located in a courtyard in the church where they are based. Construction and grading has already started so hopefully finished product photos are not far behind!

The Pathfinder Academy successfully helps teen and young parents (up to age 21) who have dropped out of high school to re-enter school and earn their GED.  The Academy was founded in 1999 and over the past ten years, the Academy has delivered a very solid core of programming that addresses barriers to GED completion: providing a young-parent friendly approach which includes addressing their broader needs in areas such as housing, income support, and physical safety; as well as such concrete assistance as getting youth to school regularly and helping secure regular childcare for their children.

The Pathfinder Academy is implementing the Pathfinder Academy: Building Health and Parent-Child Bonding Through Outdoor Play project in order to teach teen parents healthy activities (which they themselves may not have experienced as children) and to support teens learning to interact positively with their children.  At least 40 teen parents and their 40+ children will benefit from this project each year.  Through the Outdoor Play project, each week parents and children will eat a nutritious meal together, and engage in coached outdoor play, including a 20 hour curriculum teaching the importance of physical activity for children’s brain development and health.
Parents will learn to play in these areas with their children, which may also be a first for them.  Engaging in play together will help parents gain knowledge about child play and social development, increase stimulation and positive bonding with their children.  The play and curriculum will foster a cultural change for the teens to begin engaging in physical activity with their children.

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