On Tuesday, October 8, researchers from the Human Environments Analysis Lab
in Western's Geography department joined students at Blessed Sacrament Catholic Elementary School in London, Ontario for a ceremonial sod turning and tree planting as they enter the final phase of a unique project to ‘green’ and reclaim a valuable part of their school yard. Janet Loebach
, a PhD student in Geography at Western, has been leading a team of volunteers working with Blessed Sacrament students to plan how they would rescue a play area considered out-of-bounds due to safety concerns. Loebach and the team of volunteers, which included HEAL members Sarah McCans, Dr Jason Gilliland, and about a dozen undergraduate students, held workshops at the school over several months to gather ideas from students, teachers and custodial staff. Eli Paddle, another PhD student in the Lab, recently joined the team to support the final design development. The final plan, dubbed ‘The Green Direction’
by Blessed Sacrament students, includes removing asphalt and planting shade trees to help reduce the amount of heat on the schoolyard, as well as adding shrubs, grasses and mulch to help reduce exposure to airborne pollutants. The new ‘naturalized’ yard will also provide multiple opportunities for outdoor learning and environmental education.