February 13, 2017

Natural Playground & Outdoor Classroom Project Receives Support from Foundations
New outdoor play structures envisioned for RSD Early Childhood Program students

Rochester School for the Deaf (RSD) is grateful to three generous foundations for seed money grants they provided toward the development of a new, natural playground for the school's youngest students. It will be located near Denton Hall on the RSD campus. The building houses RSD’s Early Childhood Programs for Deaf infants and preschool students.

These grants were awarded by the B. Thomas Golisano Foundation ($5,000), the MAXIMUS Foundation ($5,600), and Rochester's Child, a program of the Rochester Area Community Foundation ($6,900). When completed, the total cost of the project will be approximately $75,000.

“We are delighted to support a project that gives children with hearing loss an opportunity to explore their world in a very ‘hands on’ way,” said Ann Costello, executive director of the Golisano Foundation. “RSD has been a leader in Deaf Education for the past 140 years. Their plans for building a natural playground is another example of how they find creative ways of  reinforcing classroom lessons by offering children interactive, tactile experiences that are both engaging and fun.”

MAXIMUS Foundation’s Chairman John Boyer said of their award to RSD, “The MAXIMUS Foundation is proud to present Rochester School for the Deaf with a grant in honor of its commitment to improving the lives of those it serves in the community.”

In the picture (l-r) are: Bill Keenan, Director, RSD Fund Development; MAXIMUS' Alice McHail, Senior Human Capital Specialist and Janice Eidem, Senior Vice President. 

Nancy Kaplan, coordinator of Rochester’s Child, an initiative of Rochester Area Community Foundation,  notes that grants support projects that provide young children with opportunities to learn and grow. “We are pleased to support an outdoor learning space that builds and strengthens children within their school  setting.  We are investing in their bright futures,” said Kaplan. “This natural playground and outdoor classroom for infants, toddlers and preschoolers at RSD will be an appropriate complement to the good work happening at RSD for deaf and hard-of-hearing young children and youth.” 

In recent years many schools and recreation facilities have been opting to establish natural playgrounds as opposed to playgrounds with equipment made solely of metal or plastic. A natural playground, also known as an outdoor classroom, is a space with as few man-made components as possible. Using native plants, rolling hills, and lots of trees, these playscapes represent a natural place where children can explore their world, play with mud, climb on logs, and the like. They're designed with the intent of bringing children close to nature by giving them visually-stimulating, tactile experiences.

"Nature-based play experiences can promote learning and developmental outcomes, " said Susan C. Searls, Director of Early Childhood Programs at RSD. "The outdoor environment is a rich context for many domains including math, science and language which would greatly benefit our students.  We at RSD are grateful for the generous support we have received, so far, for this most important project for our young children."




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