A local school is bringing a unique learning style to its students. 

Fort Saskatchewan’s Ecole Parc Elementaire was a recent recipient of a DOW community grant worth $5,000. They've used the extra funds to spice up their outdoor classroom by bringing in stencils to decorate the area. 

Principal Daniel Verhoeff explains how the school has been helping students enjoy their learning outside of the traditional classroom through land-based learning. 

“Land-based learning is looking for opportunities to have kids learning in environments outside of the standard classroom,” said Verhoeff. “We have an outdoor classroom set up and the kids absolutely love it.” 

The stencils brought into the space have a very special meaning. They outline the Seven Sacred Teachings of the indigenous peoples of Canada. 

Those teachings include:

  • Love
  • Respect 
  • Courage
  • Honesty
  • Wisdom 
  • Humility 
  • Truth 

Jennifer Dechaine, the chair of the school’s council, says the concept has been key in the outdoor space. 

“The seven sacred teachings have been a guiding principle for our school and students,” said Dechaine. “With each principle, we take the time to discuss what it means and how we go out into the world and follow those teachings.”

It may seem like a small thing to add to a space, but Dechaine says the smallest of changes can make the biggest differences. 

“It’s taken a lot of grants and a lot of support from our school family and this most recent grant from DOW for the activity stencils. It has really taken it to the next level,” said Dechaine. “Elements like sidewalk activity stencils that DOW supported just give the students more opportunities and more options to engage outside with their friends and classmates at recess.” 

“It also gives teachers opportunities to use those different elements in their curriculum.”  

Verhoeff adds that the student reaction to the space, just half a month into the school year, has made the investment worth it. 

“The kids have really been drawn [to the outdoor space],” said Verhoeff. “It always amazes me what kids notice, love, and use.” 

“It’s definitely been a welcome addition to our outdoor space.”