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I'm Sarah: Co-editor of Playscapes, Landscape + Playground Designer, Small Business Owner, Amateur Woodworker, and Mom to 4 Year Old Playground Expert.

Ripple Effect Model Water Literacy Playscape, New Orleans, LA

Discovery within playscapes can happen on multiple levels - from the micro-scale sensory experience or observation of the natural world to a macro-scale discovery of the community context or larger landscape. Ripple Effect is a group of educators, designers and water experts currently developing a model water literacy playscape the impact of which will radiate out across these multiple scales.

The project started with a teacher at the KIPP Central City Primary School (KCCP) in New Orleans, LA who created her own curriculum to teach her first grade students about water in their environment. Over the course of a year the curriculum grew into a larger multi-disciplinary program that now includes students, faculty, administration and greater community.

Ripple Effect and the KCCP school community are now creating a model water literacy playscape that promises to have significant impact on school community and greater New Orleans landscape. There are currently few provisions for play or interaction with nature in the KCCP courtyard. The surface is mostly asphalt and compacted earth where water pools after rain. Ripple Effect and KCCP have worked together to re-envision the space as a place where students can play and experience and observe a new model for water in landscape. Students from every grade level have been engaged in the project from site analysis to planning and design. The design is not yet finalized but the new courtyard will include an elevated play mound and recessed rain garden, outdoor gathering spaces and a special tree (sited by kindergarteners) for younger grades to read under.

Ripple Effect has launched a kickstarter campaign to make the model water literacy playscape a reality. Check out their website and get involved by contributing to their campaign any amount you can. They have set an ambitious fundraising goal of $65,000 to match the $70,000 raised with seed funding from the school community, foundation grants, and over 150 private donations. If the project is funded and built it will become a model for other schools in New Orleans and Playscapes will bring you the inside scoop on the design and construction process.

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