A peace pole amidst a profusion of plants

Playschool Child Care, Inc. in Maplewood held a dedication of its peace pole during the family fun night Aug. 1. Now one of over 200,000 peace poles in the world, peace is the focus at the entrance to the school property. The Muhammad Ali Peace Center provided the initial funds to begin peace-centered activities and gardening programs for the youth. (Linda Baumeister/Review)

Annie and Carson, 5 1/2, talk about the new peace pole and garden plantings at Playschool Child Care, Inc. in Maplewood following the dedication ceremony. The Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District helped to incorporate five rain gardens into the center’s landscaping to better control excessive water runoff. (Linda Baumeister/Review)

Watershed district helps Playschool create five rain gardens

A peace pole ceremony was held the evening of Friday, Aug. 1 at Playschool Child Care, Inc. to culminate a long series of events that have led to improved environmental conditions surrounding the daycare building on White Bear Avenue, just north of Larpenteur Avenue in Maplewood.

The ceremony was a time for youngsters’ families, former students and educators to come together to reflect proudly on the work they had done up to that point.

The daycare is located in a former public school, and for many years experienced drainage issues following rapid snow melts and heavy rainstorms.

“This property has been used for educational purposes and kids since 1904, and it was also an elementary school called Hillside Elementary in the 1940s and 1950s,” said Mary Solheim, the center’s director of education. “Since 1992, this property has been used as a child education center.”

The staff members emphasize that people of all ages can be good environmental stewards, even preschoolers, Solheim said. So when they received an offer of assistance from the Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District to correct drainage problems, they decided it would be an opportunity to incorporate rain gardening into the curriculum.

It took three years for the school to create five rain gardens designed to help manage excessive water runoff.

With help from the watershed district, and funds from the Muhammad Ali Peace Center in Georgia, the school kids were able to get their hands dirty helping create the gardens.

“Water was a huge issue on this property,” Solheim said. “We did a bunch of research for rain gardens. Kids would research flowers, weather and other things that helped bring the project together. It turned out to be a great learning experience for the kids and a great addition to the property.”

She added that many families, friends and the employees of Playschool dedicated time, energy and materials to support the project.

The peace pole ceremony was a chance for everyone to come out and see the completed landscaping project and the profusion of colorful perennials that can tolerate both wet and dry soil conditions.

“Our contribution going into the future is adding a symbol of what the philosophy is for education here,” Solheim said. “Each interaction with children, adults and families begins with a place of peace. We want it to be that symbol as people drive by.”

You can reach Tim Faklis at 651-748-7814, at tfaklis@lillienews.com, or on Twitter @tfaklisnews. 


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