The Child Care Center at Alamance Community College (ACC) has been awarded a $52,200 grant from Impact Alamance. The funds will be used to expand and renovate an outdoor learning environment designed to encourage a higher level of outdoor physical activity.
New equipment will replace and enhance dated facilities that no longer model best practice. The improvements will create a model outdoor environment for the more than 200 students annually enrolled in the early education program at ACC and will benefit childcare providers throughout the county.
“Outdoor learning environments promote increased physical activity for children and have been proven to enhance engagement with both students and teachers in and out of the classroom,” says ACC Early Childhood Education Department Head, Jeanne Proctor, “This facility will serve as a learning lab for our students, will be used for continuing education with the potential to benefit many childcare workers throughout the community and will certainly promote increased physical activity for our 54 children,” she adds.
The grant will provide enhancements such as shade structures, a cement bike pathway and ride-on vehicles, fencing, benches, balancing equipment, expansion of the playground with an outdoor playhouse and a permanent outdoor art and music area.
Playground items will be acquired by late spring. The facility is expected to open by summer and accommodations will be made for a child area during the construction process.
“We are very excited to be able to offer funds for the outdoor learning environment at ACC,” says Impact Alamance President, Tracey Grayzer. The investment fits the Impact Alamance healthy kids funding priority area, aimed at reducing childhood obesity through creating physical environments that increase access to healthy play. “We’re particularly excited about this investment and hope that once early childhood educators are exposed to the benefits of an outdoor learning area, they’ll use that knowledge to create new opportunities at centers throughout the county when they gain employment,” she adds.
The $52,200 grant augments $5,000 already received from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of NC (BCBSNC) Foundation. The ACC project is expected to be completed by this fall.