BRUSHWOOD CENTER AT RYERSON WOODS
Chicago Area Youth Learn How to Care for Urban Forests
Forest of Health / Bosque de Salud
Why This Project Matters
The project is important because 50% of those involved will be Latino and come from communities with a 60% greater rate of obesity, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, poor mental health outcomes and reduced quality of life. Research shows that visiting a forest has real, quantifiable physical and mental health benefits. Some studies show that even five minutes around trees may improve health by boosting the immune system, lowering blood pressure, reducing stress, improving mood, and increasing the ability to focus — even in children with ADHD.
The Forest of Health/Bosque de Salud program, led by Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods engages and educates youth to encourage understanding, appreciation, and hands-on interaction with the natural world. By reaching youth, their parents, and their community of care, this program is a creative approach to exposing urban youth to trees and woodlands and encouraging their future care.
Why is SFI Involved?
The SFI Conservation and Community Partnerships Grant Program is supporting this project. SFI is focused on fostering an appreciation and understanding of the natural world in today’s youth because it’s critical to their healthy mental and physical development. But today’s American and Canadian kids spend more time indoors than previous generations.
That’s why a key component of SFI’s community engagement is educating youth, through projects like Forest of Health / Bosque de Salud, to ensure they can be effective future leaders and have a strong understanding of the value of responsibly managed forests. The project will also use Project Learning Tree (PLT)materials to empower community partners to help teach youth about the value of forests. PLT is an award-winning educational initiative of SFI.
How the Project Builds SFI Community Engagement
The program supports underserved communities who live near urban forests. Its primary goal is to equip each community with the knowledge, skills, and tools to appreciate and care for trees in their own neighborhoods. This will be achieved by empowering the community partners through PLT training, engaging parents in the learning program, and by conducting follow-up activities with each community.
Each of the communities Brushwood Center will work with will learn how to assess the health benefits of trees and how they, in return, can help trees. This program includes a field trip to the Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods. The Brushwood Center has a strong history of partnership with Latino and Hispanic communities and the center is committed to culturally competent programs that respect the authentic wisdom of each community.
This partnership includes educators, researchers, conservationists and industry.
- Project lead: Brushwood Center at Ryerson Woods
- Sustainable Forestry Initiative
- Round Lake Bilingual Parent Advisory Committee
- Nuestro Center
- North American Association for Environmental Education (NAAEE)
- Nature Start Alliance
- Foss Park District
- Roberti Community House
- Cool Learning Experience