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Your Embracing Garden

Inclusion through playground interaction and community

Photo of Irene Márquez
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Inclusion is beyond people with disabilities. We aim to address difference with a deeper scope, further than genre, culture, language or social status. It is about accepting others and embracing communities as a whole. Inclusion impacts on the economy when it gives people the opportunity to contribute to their community. It also impacts on social peace, undoing misunderstandings and bringing different believes closer together. It facilitates a more balanced society who wants and will take care of their environment. Your Embracing Garden (YEG) addresses inclusion through playground interaction and community, starting in Mexico. Playing has a key role in children´s development. Unfortunately, it feels like playground time has been ignored. Apparently, taking care of their physical wellbeing is enough. On the other hand, we find that many school outdoor spaces are not developed to their full potential. When the school closes, the community and its problems continue outside. YEG is a learning opportunity to erase barriers and transform schools into open and inclusive spaces. We aim to change playground paradigms offering corners with inclusive activities and materials. Our goal is to organize playground time, not to tell children how to play. YEG begins with a community appropriation plan, where everyone is listened to, brings ideas and sees this shared dream become real. We act on space, using endemic plants, local materials and recycling spaces. THE EMPATHY FOREST, ASTRONOMIC OBSERVATION HILL or THE MAYAN CORNER are some of the areas proposed for the first prototype for a public elementary school in Merida, MX. The prototype has an activity program for promoting its values. Environmental sustainability: COLLABORATIVE FARM or BOTANICAL PATHS. Cultural preservation: THE DANCING MAYA TOTEM POLE or BAMBOO CANVAS. Inclusion: A STAR ONLY 4 YOU or SENSORIAL SIDEWALKS. Having the community as our main focus: GARDENATHON SHOW or THE HUMAN LIBRARY.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

During a first stage of advanced prototyping, it will be implemented in public schools of the States of Yucatan and Monterrey, MX. It shall continue its expansion during a second stage across South America and then the world. The main beneficiaries are: Students: they will be immersed in an inclusive environment, learning how to respect others, with their similarities and differences. Teachers: They will have the opportunity to offer their students new and exciting activities. This will help to change the playground´s climate towards a more accepting and embracing environment. Head of Staff and principals: A feasible project will be at hand, which will help them implement and achieve their curricular and inclusive goals. Community: It shall experiment an openness of public spaces. It will feel as part of a project that aims for a greater good

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

We like to understand our project as a seed who´s DNA is its values (inclusion, total accessibility, cultural preservation and sustainability) and its design principles (feasibility, self maintenance and community embracement). When this seed is planted, a garden grows resembling its community. When they start feeling this project as their own, a different yard will appear in each and every school. Moreover, pollinating will occur when the community starts sharing their experiences, thoughts and believes in YEG´s net. In this project the playground is not only going to be physically transformed. YEG is open to its community through school spaces as a meeting and sharing point. We want you to dream of us, about a garden that grows and embraces its community. An inclusive school that leaves no body behind and without any barriers. Transforming an underused place into a space that is alive. A world of fun and exciting activities that help us learn. Would you plant this seed with us?

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Prototype: I have done some small tests or experiments with prospective users to continue developing the idea.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Thinkernautas is a non lucrative organization that aims to provoque significant changes in the world through innovation and creativity.

Expertise in sector

  • 1-2 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

Meeting Gabriel, a 6 year old Mexican child, changed our lives. We met him for the first time siting alone in the playground. He suffers from a hearing impairment, which makes it very difficult for him to play with his friends. Not like when he is in the classroom, being helped by his teachers. At Gabriel´s school we found many green areas that were not being used, or even forbidden for the children. We asked some students to draw their ideal playground. These were full of trees and birds.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

This project was born with a challenge promoted by two Mexican Universities (Tec Monterrey and UADY) who were looking for ideas to improve inclusion in their society. Thinkernautas joined this challenge presenting “Rincones sin Barreras”. We had the opportunity to grow and develop it in a prototype workshop in Merida, MX. Because of the participation of two multidisciplinary teams and a week of in situ validations, YEG rises. During the validation process of this prototype in Mexico, we realized: Inclusion is an urgent need, especially in terms of genre, native culture and disability. This region has a vast knowledge of handmade products and local farming that could enrich this project. There are several small associations working to change the status quo with low economic resources and great effort. It is necessary to rebuild paths for communication between scholars and the surrounding community.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

During the workshop in Mexico, we had the opportunity to work side by side with several associations who shared our same believes and values. These people helped us develop the prototypes we had, understanding their reality and needs. They are looking for projects to help change the actual situation. We have been talking with many school principals that showed interest in the project, even letting us work with children during school days. We agreed that the playground and recess is an opportunity to effectively achieve true inclusion. While working in the workshop we met many professionals who were willing to give their time to help us improve the project. Teachers, architects, biologists, psychologists, anthropologists, artists and local garden specialists could join us as volunteers. CEPS are school participating forums where principals, teachers, parents, and neighbors are represented. For each of the schools, we would have to work side by side with them.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

A group of developed associations centered on inclusion (Mayan culture, disabilities, genre, inclusion through art…) A developed net of local craftsmen and artists. Wide range of unused open spaces in schools. The openness and sociability of Mexican people that will enable communication. An educational system that encourages schools to implement programs to achieve accessibility and inclusion.

Geographic Focus

In the first stage Mexico (states of Yucatán and Monterrey), then Latinamerica and the world.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

Our first pilot will take us up to4 months. Then we have planed to plant at least 20 seeds/proyects in diferent schools the next 12 months. Total 16 -18 months.

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of maria

Congratulations “Thinkernautas” for the project called “Your embracing garden”. In my opinion is a great idea to interact the local community with the schools, to promote the same values, culture and ethos not only in the schools but in the families and friends. I hope the project gets the necessary help to succeed and as well to be extended to many schools.

Photo of Irene Márquez

Thank you Maria,
We are working on it. Hopefuly our first prototype implantation will be in Jalisco (Monterey) in a secondary school. We have the principal commitment and the works will begin soon.

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