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Earth Angels look to land at area schools to bring butterflies and trees

A group of earthly angels and green prophets are looking to help a few Vaughan schools overcome the dull shades of concrete and asphalt in their schoolyards.

Environmental Earth Angels, a charity that provides environmental education across Ontario, is currently accepting applications from schools for its schoolyard tree planting and butterfly garden projects. Both initiatives are part of the group’s Bio-Action Program and are provided to winners at no cost.

Earth Angels has 60 spots provincewide for hands-on educational programs, five of which are reserved for Vaughan schools.

“Our response this year has been really good,” Earth Angels communications officer Christine Prashad says. “There is a bit of competition (because) we can’t accept everyone; we wish we could.

“We hate to turn people away.”

To apply for the programs, schools must submit photographs of the needy schoolyard along with a report on what may once have grown there and how either the trees or butterfly garden will benefit the community.

Originally started in 1992 by a group of environmentally minded parents and educators, Earth Angels provides both in-class and outdoor programs aimed at reducing pollution and fostering an environmental awareness in young people.

Since its creation, the organization has helped green more than 700 schoolyards, revitalized a dozen streams and worked with and educated 700,000 kids.

“They love it,” Prashad says. “I’ve been reading lots of stories about students — with the tree planting, for example — the trees become their trees and they’re protective of them.

“They want to make sure that they’re watered and that they’re taken care of. They get very excited watching them grow. The same with the butterfly gardens, … they really do take great pride (in it).”

As part of the tree-planting program, Earth Angels supplies five 13-foot-tall trees. Plants and materials are also included in the butterfly garden. Both hands-on programs come complete with in-class instruction packages and supplies and are valued at $5,000.

Earth Angels is able to provide these programs at no cost to schools because of funding it receives through partnerships with Telus, Honda Financial Services and the Body Shop Foundation.

Winning schools can begin the in-class portion of Earth Angels whenever it fits with the curriculum and planting begins in spring. But it doesn’t end there, Prashad says.

“We like to keep in contact with the school to make sure that everything is still going,” she says. “We like to receive after pictures to see how the trees or the butterfly garden have changed the landscape and to see if they’re being used for shade or the great things that can come of them.”

Applications from Vaughan schools are being accepted until Dec. 15. Spaces in both the tree planting and butterfly garden programs are limited. Prashad encourages representatives from interested schools to visit or call 416-421-5551 ext. 221 for more information or to apply.

Vaughan Today
Online: November 18, 2007 [link]