December 20th, 2015

Check out the growing relationship between students at North Allegheny High School and Grandview Elementary in this School Garden Guest Post!

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Youth Planting Change began in 2013, when student leaders at North Allegheny Senior High School (NASH) initiated pen-pal mentorships with Grandview Elementary in the Pittsburgh Public Schools District. Understanding that hunger is a daily issue for many children in Pittsburgh, NASH students strived to improve food security through education. As letters continued and friendships grew, the pen pals were eager to meet one another.

Youth Planting Change began in 2013, when student leaders at North Allegheny Senior High School (NASH) initiated pen-pal mentorships with Grandview Elementary in the Pittsburgh Public Schools District. Understanding that hunger is a daily issue for many children in Pittsburgh, NASH students strived to improve food security through education. As letters continued and friendships grew, the pen pals were eager to meet one another.

group

On April 22, 2014, NASH students traveled to Grandview and led Earth Day activities on gardening, plantgrowth, healthy eating, recycling, and sustainability. They made eco-art projects, played kickball, and planted an urban garden (which produced enough for everyone to enjoy a huge salad by the last day of school). Yes, the plants have been harvested, but the project had just begun.

garden (2)Youth Planting Change hopes to not only fill the hunger in children’s stomachs, but also their hunger for knowledge. This year, over 130 students—more than doubled since last year—are passionately continuing letter-writing mentorships. With the help of teachers from both schools, the pen pals reunited in April and again in May. The high schoolers provided reading, math, and science tutoring activities for the kids, wrote encouraging notes to promote success on the PSSA’s, and finished the day with long-lasting memories and a fun dance party.

Here are some reflections from the 4th graders:

  • Larry: “I loved kickball. One reason is that we dominated the high schoolers.”

  • Gena:“My favorite part was the dance party and my favorite song was “Teach me how to Dougie.”

  • Ellia: “I liked NA because there was a big cafeteria. Their school was so nice, and everyone there was so nice to me!”

  • Kashmer: “I also really liked the story Ms. Baker read because it tells us how we can be anything we want to be.”

  • David: “Thank you for letting us come to your school. It was really, really, really fun!”

Youth Planting Change would not have been possible without help from many youth planting changepeople and organizations. The Northern Allegheny Rotary Club, the Rockledge Garden Club, and Phipps Conservatory generously donated seeds and bulbs; teachers Janellen Lombardi, Kathy Will, and many staff members dedicated their time to help organize the program; student leaders Bret Anne Serbin and Charlie Brickner contributed scholarship money to maintain the project, and Grace Jin submitted a proposal for an Opal Apples Youth Make a Difference Grant of $5,000. We are celebrating the good news that Youth Planting Change was chosen as a grant winner!

Thank you to all whose support made this project possible. With continued mentorship, the Grandview garden as well as the seeds of knowledge will grow and flourish in the future.

Post written by: Grace Jin, Youth Planting Change student leader, North Allegheny Senior High School (gracejin1220@gmail.com)

Photo Credit: Nick Koehler

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Does Your School Garden Have Something to Share?

Edible Schoolyard Pittsburgh is excited to highlight the great work of school and child-focused garden programs in the Southwestern Pennsylvania region with our School Garden Guest Posts.  If you would like to share photos, projects, questions or ideas with the broader school garden community through a guest post, please complete our School Garden Guest Post Info Form!

Join or view our map of school gardens in SW Pennsylvania here.

 

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