UWSP Child Learning and Care Center gets national award

Published: Apr. 29, 2021 at 4:36 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - The U.S. Department of Education is honoring UWSP’s Child Learning and Care Center with its Green Ribbon Schools award.

The award recognizes the Helen R. Godfrey Center for its achievements in reducing its carbon footprint, promoting the wellness of students and staff, and providing environmental education.

“We just do a lot of environmentally conscious things within our center. A lot of our programming is also done throughout the community. Last Friday we took our children to Schmeekle and we spent the entire morning there. We did a picnic and we talked a lot about what Schmeekle is and why it’s important and just about the impact that we have on the environment,” said Educational Assistant Teacher Hannah Juza.

“Sometimes I think childcare centers think it’s very difficult to get kids outside. Imagine trying to get 20 kids dressed and outside every day. And we do it rain or snow or whatever, we have these little muddy buddies that we zip up,” said Program Assistant RoxAnne Forrest.

The Learning and Childcare Center is one of only three early learning centers in the country to get the green ribbon award this year.

“We teach them simple things, like turning off the lights, using only one paper towel, that kind of stuff. But there’s even just a grander scheme where you teach them about being kind to one another and teaching them social and emotional competence and kindness. But we’re also teaching them that same philosophy about their environment,” said Juza.

Lessons include respect for all living creatures. They are taught wildlife as small as insects to as large as deer can be observed, but should be left alone. They’re also taught to take care of the spaces around them.

“When the kids go to the park they’ll even work at cleaning up the park, taking care of the park, just having pride in our community,” said Forrest.

The playground is filled with equipment made with recycled materials. They even get to learn hands-on sustainability in their own garden.

“We will grow cucumbers, peppers, that kind of thing, and then we will harvest them together for snack time, so they get to eat the things they’re making,” said Juza.

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