Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc., a pellet plant in Quesnel B.C., recently donated safety vests to the outdoor Kindergarten program at the Silverthorne Elementary School for the young students to use on their daily one to two hour walks around the community of Houston.
Every day the outdoor Kindergarten class spends time outside learning literacy and numeracy, practicing safe pedestrian crossings, and reinforcing self-responsibility of dressing appropriately for the weather.
Tanya Margerm, Kindergarten teacher at Silverthorne Elementary School, said, “The students learn that it is their responsibility to put on their winter boots, remember their gloves and toques, and take ownership for dressing appropriately.”
When Margerm asked the students if their parents are responsible for making sure they dress appropriately, in unison the kids replied, “No, it is mine.”
Margerm said that they have been visiting Cottonwood Manor daily to reinforce mathematics, specifically measurement and how many units will fit into the foundation.
“The construction workers have come to know us very well,” said Margerm, as the kids wave at familiar faces on the Cottonwood site.
The four to five year olds were able to answer questions on the difference between concrete and cement, and what ingredients are used to make concrete, as well as calculate how fast the flow of Buck Creek was running by throwing leaves into the river and counting how many seconds it took for it flow down.
As well as learning patterning through collecting leaves and laying them out on the ground, the students are also learning the Wet’suwet’en words for animals and flora.
On one occasion the students walked past the Houston RCMP detachment and were invited in on the spot for a tour of the office.
Margerm said that the safety vests the kids wear were at no cost to Silverthorne or the parents of the students.
Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc. donated the vests as a part of their initiative to be community involved. The symbol on the back of the vests signify four people holding hands together and staying safe.
“We heard about the school taking the kids out on walks, and saw an opportunity to share our owning safety culture with the Kindergarten class,” said Leroy Reitsma, president and chief operating officer for Pinnacle Renewable Energy Inc.
“The students practice teamwork and leadership by partnering with each other, and encouraging each other to respect the environment around them as behave appropriately and safely,” said Margerm.
A teacher and a parent always accompany the kids, one at the front leading the group and another at the back to ensure everyone stays together.
Margerm said that the daily walks allow a continual awareness to develop in the minds of the young students, as they regularly become aware of how to make the daily weather conditions outside a safe environment for them, and put on their “scientist goggles’ to think and ask questions about what goes on in their community.