In order to ensure the value of outdoor education is recognized beyond COEO, we have taken an active role in promoting the multiple benefits of this approach to learning.
To this end, the organization has recently taken steps to create:
- Greater presence on social media
- Raised awareness through publications in public media
- Meetings with members of the provincial government to advocate on behalf of endangered outdoor programs and recent funding cuts to Ontario’s public education system
- Statement on The Value of Outdoor Experiential Education (OEE)
We believe Outdoor Experiential Education (OEE) is a valuable educational investment that pays for itself.
• It will help in achieving the goals in Education That Works For You
• It improves youth physical and mental health
• It improves youth resilience to better prepare students for post-secondary education and the world of work
• It promotes lifelong emotional, physical and spiritual well-being
For these reasons, COEO advocates for the following government actions:
1. Acknowledge the value of OEE by preserving current levels of funding, and educational opportunities, for OEE in future school years;
2. Maintain a mix of local and further afield OEE locations
3. Preserve continued development of curriculum-based OEE through appropriately qualified OCTs, with the teaching carried out by both OCTs and instructor specialists.
The Ontario government recently launched a public consultation about how to ensure the health benefits of nature are fully realized for all Ontarians. This is part of the Made-in-Ontario Environment Plan commitment to provide people with more opportunities to enjoy provincial parks and support the worldwide Healthy Parks Healthy People movement.
On August 16th, 2019, Jeff Yurek, Ontario’s Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks, sent a letter to each of the province’s 36 Conservation Authorities, ordering them to “wind down” unnecessary programs that do not relate to their “core mandate.” At least one Conservation Authority had already chosen to cut their Children’s Environmental Education program in response to funding cuts. Responses to this letter include: Nottawasaga Valley Conservation Authority’s CAO Doug Hevenor’s response to Minister Yurek’s letter and COEO’s An Open Letter of Support for Conservation Authority Staff. Please take a minute to let your local Conservation Authority and MPP know how much you value environmental education programs and don’t want to see them cut from the core mandate of Ontario’s Conservation Authorities.
You can read our July 16th, 2019, submission to Minister of Education Stephen Lecce here: Letter to Minister Lecce from COEO.
Thank you to Marit Stiles, NDP Official Opposition Critic for Education, for meeting with us and for writing an excellent Letter of Support for Outdoor Education Centres, June 28 2019
Want to get involved in advocating for OEE in Ontario? Please contact your local MPP and request that they write a letter of support, with similar requests for action from the new Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce. https://www.ola.org/en/get-involved/contact-mpp
Take a minute to read and share the recent Op-Ed article published on July 15th, 2019, in the Toronto Star entitled The Value of Outdoor Education. Maybe you can write a similar article about your OEE experience and submit it to a local media outlet?
Please follow our social media accounts and keep an eye on local media as we continue our advocacy efforts.
Follow us on:
Twitter (@COEOoutdoors https://twitter.com/coeooutdoors)
Instagram (@COEOoutdoors https://www.instagram.com/coeooutdoors/)