Equity for All
Updated: Jun 30, 2020
As a program, we are paying attention to marginalized voices and taking steps to combat inequality. Research shows that awareness of racism and racial difference begins early in childhood. It is crucial that children have safe places to learn about and understand these topics and that early childhood educators do what they can to combat children's internalization of racial inequality. In one study, preschoolers who had teachers that were pro-active in affirming racial identities had positive outcomes in their growth and development. Click here to read a great article about from the NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children) about teaching about race.
Here are steps that we, at Wonderbloom, have taken and are taking. Overall, we are committed to learning, growing, and changing in order to affirm children's identities and remove barriers for children who would like to participate in nature-based learning.
Learning and Changing. As a staff, we are reading How to be Anti-Racist by Ibram X. Kendi and discussing it during our staff meetings. We continually have open dialogue about what we can do to make our programs policies, procedures, and learning environment anti-racist. We have a nature-based mentor who is black and is teaching us about considerations that black families need in order to make the outdoor classroom a safe and comfortable place for their children. We acknowledge that even though we may not be outright racist, we need to actively promote anti-racism in our programs and conversations.
Celebrating Differences. Our program accepts families of all races, ethnicities, genders, orientation, abilities, and family structures. We have books and learning materials that represent these differences and we naturally include discussion about these differences in our everyday play. Similarly, our website features children of different races and ethnicities so families are represented and feel comfortable attending.
Facility Accessibility. Our facility in Salt Lake City is wheelchair accessible and we are always open and willing to work with families to make accommodations for children with disabilities. Furthermore, our location is accessible to a variety of socioeconomic levels, because it is situated in a highly urban area with the median annual income of $36,000.
Financial Accessibility. We work with Department of Workforce Services (families experiencing unemployment) and the Child Care Development Fund (relatives of the Goshute Native American Tribe) to accept payments for families that qualify for their services. We started a scholarship fund with a percentage of proceeds from our Wonderbloom Kits which will cover tuition for low-income families. In addition, we partner with Oaki to provide high-quality outdoor gear for students who can't afford it.
Nature Accessibility. Our Salt Lake urban location has minimal "natural" nature, but we believe that all children, no matter where they live, can have nature-based experiences. We actively model this for children and families who attend our program. One of the missions of Wonderbloom is to provide training programs for other child care and preschool programs to help them incorporate nature-based learning into their programs, no matter what type of "nature" the program has access to.