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10-16-20 | Department

Volunteer Afterschool Program Engages Young Minds

GAI's Orange Blossom Trail
by Pete Sechler, PLA, AICP, MBA

GAI's Wes Shaffer and Ian Mancini helped guide enthusiastic students through various academic activities at the Pineloch Elementary School STREAM open house. Shaffer can be seen leading different activity stations at the event to introduce young students to the vast field of landscape architecture. At STREAM, young participants had the opportunity to take a virtual view of reality using one of the VR headsets to get a new perspective on the educational material.
GAI's Wes Shaffer and Ian Mancini helped guide enthusiastic students through various academic activities at the Pineloch Elementary School STREAM open house. Shaffer can be seen leading different activity stations at the event to introduce young students to the vast field of landscape architecture. At STREAM, young participants had the opportunity to take a virtual view of reality using one of the VR headsets to get a new perspective on the educational material.

The GAI team completed the award-winning Orange Blossom Trail (OBT) Next master plan project in Orlando, FL, in which they outlined a detailed strategy that would reimagine the OBT area that had deteriorated over the past several decades due to lack of local investment. With the plan in place, the next step for GAI was to have their Community Solutions Group (CSG) staff work on assisting local residents by crafting an afterschool program for Orlando's Pineloch Elementary School.

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Based on a traditional STEM program, CSG staff added reading and art to the afterschool program's focus, resulting in the Pineloch STREAM Club. The weekly afterschool program, offered throughout the 2019-2020 school year, was planned and managed by a volunteer group of CSG staff.

For the program's open house, GAI's CSG team created an interactive event featuring fun, hands-on, game-like activities to engage students, parents, and faculty on how STREAM elements are applied in the daily practice of landscape architecture. Each student was issued a 'passport' and then visited a series of activity stations based on the STREAM elements. After completing each activity, the students received a stamp in his or her passport with the goal of getting them completely filled. On the day of the open house the afterschool program was enrolled at capacity, with a waiting list of students to get in.

"The OBT Development Board was pleased to join forces in supporting this endeavor... "said Vanessa Pinkney, Executive Director, OBT Development Board. "The 4th and 5th graders have been exposed for the first time to professionals in the planning and landscape architecture fields and how they impact neighborhood and community building."

The Pineloch STREAM program was honored with a 2020 Merit Award in the Grassroots Initiative category by The American Planning Association Florida Chapter. The STREAM program was also lauded at an Orange County Public Schools 2020 District 5 Annual Recognition event.

Filed Under: GAI, TRAIL, STEWARDSHIP
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