Tag Archives: Sharon Danks

New group with Berkeley roots aims to get kids outside

Garden teacher Tanya Stiller at Rosa Parks Elementary School shares her love of the natural world with students. Photo: Sharon Danks
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Sharon Danks and her colleagues around the world are doing their best to combat so-called nature deficit disorder in today’s children, many of whom are growing up with competing demands such as “screen time,” and other barriers to a romp in the park such as safety concerns or access issues.

Danks, a planner and partner with Bay Tree Design in Berkeley, recently co-founded the global group International School Grounds Alliance to address an increasingly sedentary and risk-averse generation of young ones who, it is feared, are becoming disconnected from their natural environments. Some children, shuttled from school to home to other indoor activities, simply don’t spend much, if any, time in the great outdoors.

The nascent organization, with members in Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States, want kids to experience the fun and games of outside play. … Continue reading »

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Community seeks life support for school edible programs

The end of salad days for BUSD students? Photos: Rivka Mason
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This week, Berkeley parents and community members rallied to find ways to secure funds to save the gardening and cooking programs at three local elementary schools.

The programs at Malcolm XRosa Parks, and Washington, whose combined budgets are  $372,000, are threatened because, under existing guidelines, the schools no longer qualify for federal monies as they have fewer than 50% of their students enrolled in the free and reduced-lunch program.

At a meeting at Malcolm X on Monday night, about two dozen people representing the three schools and the South Berkeley community hashed out ideas to find money in the short-term — and discussed the bigger-picture concern of making these programs sustainable,  as well as available to all BUSD students over the long haul. … Continue reading »

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Berkeley’s asphalt-to-green movement rooted in schools

Sharon Danks, an environmental planner and founding partner of Berkeley’s Bay Tree Design, is a leader in transforming asphalt playgrounds into kid-friendly places replete with ponds, plants, and places to play.

This video, produced by Erika Brekke for OnEarth magazine, shows Danks’ transformation of the grounds at Rosa Parks Elementary in Berkeley. It’s a wonderland for kids with tree stumps to sit on, rocks to climb on, ponds to study, and vegetables to eat. The teachers use the outdoor space in parts of the curriculum, too, the video shows. … Continue reading »

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