People’s Credit Union is first to join funders collaborative for Thrive Outside’s new Outdoor Learning Zone project at the Kickemuit Middle School in Warren

Thrive Outside is creating an Outdoor Learning Zone for the Kickemuit Middle School in Warren, RI, and People’s Credit Union is the first to join the nonprofit’s Funders Collaborative supporting the project.  The school has already received a $100,000 grant from the Rhode Island Department of Education and a $10,000 grant from the Eastern Rhode Island Conservation District, however an additional $190,000 is needed if the Reset Space, Creativity Space, and Adventure Area elements of the design are to be realized. Thrive Outside is helping the school connect with businesses and donors who believe in the importance of outdoor and environmental education to make it all happen.

“Environmental literacy and hands-on learning opportunities play an important role in the overall well-being of our youth. People’s Credit Union couldn’t be happier to support this project which will instantly benefit over 650 students” emphasizes Sean Daly, Head of People’s Credit Union. Outdoor Learning Zones and outdoor education training for teachers have been proven to promote academic success, pro-environmental behaviors, and healthy emotional/physical development among youth. They also expand access to outdoor learning opportunities for students with physical disabilities and students facing other barriers.

The KMS OLZ addresses sustainability and climate resiliency through the creation of native meadow and woodland habitats, and green building and stormwater mitigation practices, carefully designed by Thrive Outside and collaborator Sunflower Designs.  RI DEM has determined that the area just west of the school is an environmental justice area. Central to the entire Outdoor Learning Zone project is the desire to address equity in access to nature. 24% of the school’s student population is economically disadvantaged and 17% are minorities, both of which have been traditionally marginalized with limited access to natural spaces.

Studies show that children today spend around 44 hours a week on screens and less than 10 minutes a day playing outside. To make matters worse, 74% of communities of color and 70% of low-income communities in the US live in nature-deprived areas (Source: Children & Nature Network).  Meanwhile, the youth mental health crisis has left educators grasping for scarce resources, support, and new ideas for how to help their students.

“We hope to create an area that will be pivotal to the social emotional health of our students with opportunities for mindful reflection, self-regulation, and connectedness to oneself, one’s school and the greater natural world”, explains KMS school psychologist Lora Helton, who has been advocating for funding for the Reset Space part of the OLZ.

Individuals and businesses who want to help fund the Outdoor Learning Zone should email .

About Thrive Outside

Thrive Outside is a nonprofit organization on a mission to give every child the opportunity to thrive through a joyful relationship with nature.  For more information or to get involved, visit our website or follow Thrive Outside on Facebook,  Instagram or LinkedIn.  


Shannon Rozea

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