Therapeutic Outdoor Environments (TOEs)

Project Overview:

A Child’s Haven (ACH) is transforming our external spaces into Therapeutic Outdoor Environments (TOEs) that will create significant therapeutic benefits to the families we serve. ACH services address critical needs for preschool children in our community. Nearly all ACH children have been expelled from their regular childcare setting. Young children expelled from preschool are more likely to experience negative effects in development, education, and health (National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness). ACH equips these children with skills needed to return to and remain in mainstream childcare settings.

Our children are with us up to ten hours each day. They spend at least an hour each day outside, and our extended day students may use our TOEs for several hours in the afternoon. ACH children will benefit from social-emotional impacts of playing in our TOEs including improved self-discipline and social relations, stress reduction, improving behavior and increasing cooperation (NLI Research Brief: Impact of Early Childhood Outdoor Learning Environments, 2019).

Agricultural elements of our TOE project will benefit ACH families and their communities by teaching families how to grow their own food and about Regenerative Agriculture farming practices which re-build organic matter and restore degraded soil diversity while reducing carbon emissions and improving their community’s water cycle.

Phase One of our TOEs project will cost $200,000.

$167,000 of $200,000 raised

Our five TOEs

Central Green:

The shining jewel of this project will be our largest outdoor area. Our reimagined Central Green will feature varying topography along with age-appropriate structure elements and over two dozen species of plants for a truly immersive space that will stimulate the imagination. New features will include a circular paved pathway, observation platform, playhouse, and more. Click the image for a better look!

This paved and covered area is already a favorite for tricycle rides and rainy days, but it’s ready for a facelift. The refreshed pavilion will maxim-ize this space by adding over a dozen species of new plants, a butterfly garden, and a circular pathway that crosses over a bridge and under a vine-covered pergola. The gross motor play that will take place will teach our children both patience and teamwork. Click the image to see more details!

Vegetable Garden:
Our existing Vegetable Garden features raised garden beds where we plant fruits and vegetables for use in our kitchen and distribution to the families we serve. This space will be transformed with expanded planting beds, fruit trees, vines full of berries, and fresh herbs. This new space will engage the senses, encourage healthy eating, teach patience and responsibility, and demonstrate the importance of teamwork while continuing to offset food costs. Click the image for a closer view!

Retreat Garden:
The Retreat Garden will be a totally new space that is perfect for Individual Therapy sessions, de-escalation walks for children experiencing outbursts, or, simply, a space for staff to recharge. Our Retreat Garden design features ten plant varieties, a gravel pathway, and a recirculating water feature that will fill the entire space with soothing sound. Click the image to check out the rendering!

Infant Playground:
Our redesigned Infant Playground will be a combination of imaginative play ele-ments and features designed to encourage gross movement necessary to achieve developmental milestones. The new design will include ten varieties of plants, an acoustic play space, play house, paved walkway for wheeled play, and a shade sail to protect our little ones on hot days. Click image to see more!