The fifth annual NoVA Outside School Environmental Action Showcase (SEAS) brought over 500 students from public schools, private schools and homeschooling groups in Ablemarle County, Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, and Falls Church to George Mason University to learn and share about environmental stewardship. The event, which took place on April 6, 2016, was put on in partnership with George Mason University Potomac Environmental Research and Education Center. and GMU’s Office of Sustainability. Read More
Sometimes we need to gather all the great health and wellness event information in one place to make sure we keep track of it all! We have lots of great events and classes listed in the Mindful Healthy Life calendar, and we post new things as we learn about them on the Mindful Healthy Life Facebook page and on our Twitter feed @MindfulHealthy. But here is a quick and handy list of some of the bigger not-to-be-missed events coming up this winter and spring.
What a relief to have some warm temperatures and sunshine to start off the week. It was no fun to have such a warm day last Thursday and then shiver back into our winter coats again on Friday. This week is spring break for many around our area. Others’ breaks will start on Friday. If you’re anything like me, the biggest “break” about a break from school is not having to cook so much that you have enough leftovers to send in your child’s lunch the next day! I normally feel like I could never hack it as a homeschooler, but whenever I get a break on food prep, I can see the appeal!
Still, there are a lot of reasons why I have my children in public school, and one of them is because I want to be an agent for change and an advocate for healthy living for all children. Next week, two events will showcase efforts to expand the reach of gardening and nutrition programs and outdoor learning in Northern Virginia.
Green teams, eco-clubs, Earth Force crews: environmentally-aware students of all stripes came out to the April 10 School Environmental Action Showcase (SEAS) held at George Mason University’s Center for the Arts and on the blossom-filled grounds around Mason Pond. The event was the third annual showcase organized by NoVA Outside, a coalition of environmental educators that is in the process of becoming a non-profit organization.
This year, some 800 people participated from over 30 schools in Fairfax, Arlington, Alexandria and Falls Church and 30 partnering organizations in addition to 40 invited VIPs. The lobby of the Arts Center turned into an expo filled with rows of tables where schools shared their pride in eco efforts on tri-fold displays. Students spent one of the rotations of the day staffing their table to explain to their peers what initiatives their schools had undertaken in the realm of environmental awareness. These included gardens, inventive recycling programs, energy awareness campaigns and more.
Students shared excitedly what they’d learned from other schools’ exhibits. Some schools actively promoted action items; Arlington’s H-B Woodlawn’s Earth Force team is hoping to get everyone to Turn Out the Lights from 10:00 to 10:30 p.m. on April 26 and circulated information about this energy-saving initiative.
The event began at 10:00 with a keynote address by Cassandre Arkema and Antonio Mestre of Arlington’s Washington-Lee High School. Students then cycled through rotations that included exhibiting in the Center for the Arts and enjoying hands-on activities outside on the lawn above Mason Pond. It was the perfect day to celebrate learning outside!
Dozens of professionals committed to environmental awareness showcased their projects under two large tents. Exhibitors included nature centers and science-based organizations with microscopes and wildlife displays, education programs like Arcadia Farm and School for the Future, businesses with eco-friendly products including WormWatcher.com showing its compost bin and Tom Noll with his new children’s book, The Bicycle Fence (which he donated to our Earth Day opening giveaway), the first in the Recycling Creatively with L.T. series, to be followed soon by a book about raising chickens for eggs.
The Fairfax Stormwater Planning Division invited students to investigate pond water and displayed a Field Guide it produced last year that has been given to all Fairfax County 5th grade students. It seemed thoroughly possible to spend almost the entire day outside doing experiments and talking to to experts in their fields.
But there was so much more inside! Middle school students on Earth Force teams had the opportunity to showcase their own research on the question of “What can you do to improve your watershed?” The “Caring For Our Watersheds” competition gave out thousands of dollars to competing teams, including first- and second-place winners George Washington Middle School and third place Kenmore Middle School.
This was the second year for the Caring for our Watersheds competition and the first year that SEAS hosted the KidWind Challenge, which has students explore the power of wind energy and design and create a functional wind turbine. The middle school winner was Lanier Middle School, and Jack Jouett Middle School won the open division. National KidWind Challenge takes place here in town on the National Mall on Saturday, April 26.
Last year I volunteered to help out at the event, but this year, with the busyness of launching this site, I made only enough time t show up and enjoy it! It was thrilling to see children so engaged and learning from one another and from people in positions they might someday hold, now that they know about all the ways one can make a career out of environmentalism. The day seemed like the best kind of field trip, one that helped students connect what they were learning to the real world, both in terms of consequences and environmental awareness and also awareness about opportunities to work in the field. For a nice snapshot of the SEAS event, check it out on Storify.
NoVA Outside is putting on its third Early Childhood Outside Conference also on April 26 at Westlawn Elementary school in Fairfax with the theme “The Arts in Nature” and is also sponsoring a book discussion on May 13 about Adventure: The Importance of Risk in Children’s Play.
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What better way to celebrate Earth Day than with books and music make it easy – and fun – to be green!
For the initial launch of Mindful Healthy Life of Metro DC, we’re giving away a few homegrown gems: a copy of the wonderful CD Earth Day Everyday from Solar Publishing, a great company based in Maryland, and a copy of the wonderful children’s book “The Bicycle Fence,” the first in the series “Recycling Creatively with L.T.” by D.C.-based landscaper Tom Noll.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
I first met Robyn Ringgold of Solar Publishing at the 2007 DC Green Festival (which returns to town this spring, May 31-June 1, 2014) and have loved her books ever since. Back then, I bought and instantly loved My Mom Hugs Trees, and when I saw her read from My Mom Eats Tofu in 2010, I fell in love with the book’s message of caring about where your food comes from (whether you eat soy or not!). Robyn is a local treasure! I caught up with her last month at the second annual Grow Your Health Festival and was excited to get another copy of the fabulous CD our family loves.
Robyn’s newest book, My Mom Stands on Her Head is a beautiful celebration of yoga, with the same delightful artwork by Alexandria artist Vidya Vasudevan. I picked that one up at the 2013 Green Festival where I met Tom at a shared table and learned of his new book series that aims to share fun ways to get kids excited about recycling. When I ran into Tom again earlier this month at the School Environmental Action Showcase sponsored by NoVA Outside earlier, he donated copies of The Bicycle Fence for this giveaway and showed me proofs of the next book – about farm fresh eggs – due out in May. We’ll sit down with Tom for a Q&A and do a giveaway about that when it becomes available, and we’ll also be hearing from Robyn and Vidya in guest posts the near future about their work and how they balance it with parenting.
This is what we’re about here at Mindful Healthy Life of Metro DC: sharing news about events and opportunities for involvement; showcasing local businesses, organizations and practitioners who are committed to health and well-being; connecting readers with great local resources that support healthy families, and giving a space for parents to share their own journeys, including the bumps along the way. After years of wishing a site like this existed to help me in my parenting journey, I’m excited to launch it to share news on local parenting topics and ways to live naturally as a family. The blog will include profiles of local businesses and organizations and guest posts by people who have made it their passion – and sometimes their profession – to be healthy and mindful in their own families and to help parents find a holistic way of living that feels vibrant and sustainable. We hope you enjoy what you learn here and that you will consider sharing your own story (link to submission guidelines) with us. And be sure to add events to our calendar and businesses and groups to our directory.