Gardening and Literacy Education through the Arts
By Jalesa Cooley, email@example.com
Each summer, the City of Columbia’s Parks and Recreation Department collaborates with the Office of Sustainability to host an interactive summer camp for local students. Camp GLEA (Gardening and Literacy Education through the Arts) is a two-week program that strives to teach students the importance of gardening, environmental sustainability and making healthy choices through various activities and team-building exercises. Carolina Farm and Gardens manager Matthew Kip hosted this year's camp along with Max Ciarlone and Stephanie Arnold, two Sustainable Carolina students.
This year, students from the Emily Douglas Park area spent their mornings at Green Quad learning what it takes to live a sustainable life. With the overall focus of health and wellness in mind, Kip decided it would be most beneficial to teach from a loose curriculum and tailored his lessons to the students’ everyday desires. In the mornings, students participated in team-building exercises and were given time for journaling. While some students took the time as an opportunity to write poetry or draw pictures, others created imaginative stories. Once in the garden, the students planted seeds, picked fruits and vegetables and learned important lessons like the benefits of multitasking in a garden.
Although most of the camp was spent working in the garden, the group also took several field trips around Columbia, visiting City Roots, the Congaree River and the Healthy Carolina Farmers Market. Through the interdisciplinary approaches to camp activities, the students strengthened their communication skills while building confidence, making friends and contributing to a natural ecosystem.
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