By Sara Brown
Thanks to a grant, the McKinley Elementary School will be receiving a new garden. The Revere on the Move campaign gave McKinley a $4,200 grant in hopes that the new garden will help to continue to make McKinley a healthier community.
“Revere on the Move is proud to support the McKinley in the creation of a school garden and all they do to help raise healthy kids and set our children on a path for healthy adulthood,” said Cate Blackford, manager of Healthy Community Initiatives for the City of Revere and coleader of Revere on the Move.
Site coordinator Charlie Giuffrida and art teacher Kristen Green wrote the grant. Revere on the Move selected McKinley Elementary School as one of the mini-grant winners because of their plan to create long-term change in the Revere environment and impact the education of students for years to come. They put forward a strong, clear application with clear measures of success and demonstrated great capacity to carry it forward.
“The Revere Public School afterschool program at the McKinley was kicking around ideas for spring enrichments,” Giuffrida said. He continued, “We kicked around the idea of a garden club or container gardens—something we've done in the past. I sent out a weekly e-mail to our staff talking about potential ideas, and I included this one; my boss wrote back, ‘whoa, we should apply for the Revere on the Move grant…’ and the wheels were in motion.”
Giuffrida also said he was excited about the endless learning opportunities the garden could provide to the students. “Other than tying this into academics and allowing them to actually visualize the life cycle of a plant—among many other subject areas this could impact (art, math for measuring plant growth, etc.), I would love to instill within them an appreciation of nature and the process that goes along with it,” the site coordinator said.
Giuffrida explained that they are still figuring out the logistics of the garden but the students will be a very big part of this project. “We want them to be invested into this garden from the start and really have an “ownership” [involvement]. Ideally adults in the building would play a more supportive/advising role to the students as the garden grows,” he said.
Giuffrida said the after school programs will incorporate garden maintenance into a student’s routine, and this idea has been suggested: A different classroom each morning would help with the garden. He believes the garden is something some students could develop a passion for.
“Some students thrive with hands-on learning opportunities—taking their lessons from theory and putting them into actuality. It could be something that students fall in love with,” he opined.
Revere on the Move is a community-led collaboration between the City of Revere and the Revere CARES Coalition, working to make healthy choices around food and physical activity readily available and accessible in Revere. Revere on the Move is a Mass in Motion (MiM) initiative, funded in part by Partners HealthCare. MiM is a statewide obesity prevention initiative of the Mass. Department of Public Health.