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LIIF and the Community Hold Ribbon-Cutting to Celebrate the Latest Milestone of the San Francisco Children and Nature Program

Written by LIIF Early Care and Education Team

On a perfect spring day, a crowd 200 strong joined together as a ribbon was ceremoniously cut to celebrate the latest achievement of the San Francisco Children and Nature program. That milestone was 10 more early care and education (ECE) facilities now having their outdoor spaces reimagined, with parks being brought to our kids rather than the opposite. Of that total, five offer center-based care and five are family child care providers with their small businesses in their homes. There have now been 21 spaces refurbished, with 14 more in the pipeline.

San Francisco Children and Nature works to ensure “all children and youth growing up in the city have the same opportunities to play, learn and grow in nature.” LIIF has been heavily involved in this greening effort, partnering with the Department of Early Childhood and San Francisco Recreation and Parks. There is now active participation from 50+ government agencies, nonprofit institutions and community-based organizations. On hand for the festive occasion were five of the 11 members of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors: District 1 Sup. Connie Chan; District 7 Sup. Myrna Melgar; District 8 Sup. Rafael Mandelmann, who represents the communty where the event took place; District 9 Sup. Hillary Ronen; and District 11 Sup. Ahsha Safai.

The late-morning event took place at the Friends of St. Francis Childcare Center — located on the edge of the city’s Castro and Duboce Triangle neighborhoods –which is the latest recipient of a backyard nature space offering wonder for its little ones. Executive Director Sally Large explained how the backyard had been barren of trees, as they had all fallen over. With new trees in full bloom, Large held up a picture drawn by budding artist Eva, one of the children who spends time at the center. As one of the new trees put out its blooms a few months back, Eva created a colorful drawing showcasing nature in all its splendor. Large also explained how a community effort now includes a neighbor offering lemons from their tree each morning, with fresh lemonade being made for the kids.

San Francisco Children and Nature is essential in San Francisco, which is the second-densest large city in the nation at 800,000+ residents in a mere 49 square miles. According to research from the Child Mind Institute, these are the main benefits of nature play:

  1. It builds confidence.
  2. It promotes creativity and imagination.
  3. It teaches responsibility.
  4. It provides different stimulation.
  5. It gets kids moving.
  6. It makes them think.
  7. It reduces stress and fatigue.

Summed up LIIF ECE Deputy Director, San Francisco Elizabeth Winograd about why LIIF values the importance of nature play: “This project serves as a beacon of hope, allowing kids to explore the natural world in a profound way.”

This project serves as a beacon of hope, allowing kids to explore the natural world in a profound way.

LIIF ECE Deputy Director, San Francisco Elizabeth Winograd
Early Care and Education