One of Green Schoolyards America’s closest partners is the International School Grounds Alliance (ISGA), a global network of organizations and individuals working to enrich children’s learning and play by improving the way school grounds are designed and used.
Every year or two the ISGA holds an international conference in a different part of the world. In November 2018, the ISGA’s 7th conference was held in Yokohama, Japan and was directed by Dr. Ko Senda, Associate Professor at Tsurumi Junior College (and in our opinion, one of the best designers of children’s environments in the world!). The conference was called Exploring the World through Our School Grounds. Green Schoolyards America’s CEO, Sharon Danks, is one of ISGA’s co-founders. She participated on the conference planning committee and was honored to share our work in Japan during the event’s international symposium.
During the conference, participants were treated to inspiring keynote talks, workshops, and tours and spent time with colleagues from Japan and many other countries. The schoolyards that participants toured were absolutely phenomenal, and included preschool environments where hundreds of children engage in hands-on learning and play by climbing trees, swinging on ropes, digging in sand boxes, and balancing on creatively-designed play elements.
At many schools, the buildings—as well as the grounds—were designed in a very child-centered manner that included rope climbing nets and other interactive elements that were built into the structure of the school buildings, giving children a very three dimensional experience of their classrooms and gathering spaces inside the schools.
Green Schoolyards America greatly values our relationships with like-minded colleagues and organizations around the world. Their thoughtful, elegant, and impactful work continually enriches our overall approach and broadens our perspective. We are honored to partner with the ISGA to build an international movement in this field, and to add our voice to a wider call to connect children with nature every day at school.
The ISGA’s next conference will be held in Scotland in September 2020. We hope you will join us and add your voice to the growing global chorus of green schoolyard advocates! Please visit the ISGA’s website for more information.