The Great Outdoors

Grand Opening Of “Nature Explore” Outdoor Classrooms

Early Childhood Alliance, a leading non-profit organization dedicated to providing quality early childhood education, is thrilled to announce the grand opening of its new Nature Explore Outdoor Classrooms at the Beacon Street Learning Program.

These innovative outdoor classrooms, developed in collaboration with Nature Explore, and built by Tonn and Blank Construction, aim to provide a dynamic and interactive learning environment for the children in our childcare facility. The Nature Explore Outdoor Classrooms are designed to foster creativity, exploration, and a connection with the natural world.

Patti Hays, Amber Bauer, Corinna Ladd, and Kacey Deverell, M.A. Ed, reveal the nature-based outdoor classrooms.

The outdoor classrooms were made possible thanks to support from PNC Foundation and other donors.

“This project aligns perfectly with PNC Grow up Great®, our philanthropic initiative which provides extensive support for early childhood development and education,” said Corinna Ladd, PNC regional president for northern Indiana. “Recent research indicates that children are spending less time outdoors. By creating engaging, new outdoor learning spaces, we know can help promote a child’s cognitive function, attention, and social-emotional skills.”

These classrooms are an example of Early Childhood Alliance’s commitment to enhancing the learning experiences of young minds through the integration of nature-based education. Students will have the opportunity to learn in a variety of new outdoor areas including a music and movements area, a messy materials area, a climbing and crawling area, a dirt digging area, a nature art area, a garden area, a sand area, a building area, and a gathering and sensory area.

“The need for early childhood education opportunities in Fort Wayne is even greater for the child with a disability,” says Patti Hays, AWS Foundation CEO. “This universally designed playground ensures that ECA can serve children with a variety of disabilities along with their peers without disabilities.”

The grand opening ceremony will be a celebration of the collective efforts that have made this project possible. Early Childhood Alliance extends heartfelt gratitude to its donors, whose generosity and support have played a crucial role in turning this vision into reality. Without their contributions, the Nature Explore Outdoor Classrooms would not have been possible.

“We are incredibly grateful to our donors for their unwavering support. Their commitment to the well-being and education of our children has made this exciting venture into outdoor learning a reality,” said Amber Targgart, CEO of Early Childhood Alliance.

We would like to thank the PNC Foundation, AWS Foundation, Doermer Family Foundation, Steel Dynamics, Franklin Electric Charitable and Educational Foundation, Journal Gazette Foundation, Chaffee Family Foundation, Sweetwater, and M.E. Raker Foundation.

The Nature Explore Outdoor Classrooms are poised to become a central hub for experiential learning, where children can engage in hands-on activities, connect with nature, and explore their surroundings. Early Childhood Alliance envisions these outdoor spaces as catalysts for fostering a love for learning and environmental stewardship among young learners.

Early Childhood Alliance looks forward to witnessing the joy and excitement on the faces of the children as they begin to explore and play in the newly unveiled Nature Explore Outdoor Classrooms.

Early Childhood Alliance is a nonprofit organization committed to ensuring that every child has access to high-quality early education and developmentally appropriate care. With a range of programs and services, Early Childhood Alliance supports families, educators, and communities in nurturing children’s growth and development from birth to age five. For more information, please visit

The Waynedale News Staff
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