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School Safety & Well-Being: Enhancing the Outdoor Environment


9:45 AM - 10:45 AM

Room: Rock Creek

School safety discussions often focus on worst-case scenarios rather than a holistic approach. This seminar promotes a broader view of safety and well-being and considers the architect's role—particularly in designing outdoor environments. Research confirms the value of outdoor connections. It benefits students' mental health, leading to higher student engagement and test scores and, notably, fewer violent incidents. In this course, participants will look at environments that support opportunities for outdoor education, outdoor play, outdoor experience, and outdoor exposure. This conversation will be grounded in real-world examples of the health benefits of outdoor experiences for K-12 students, followed by a case study of an elementary school in North Carolina.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Review the benefits of outdoor environments to students' mental and physical well-being, leading to reduced stress, decreased disruptive behavior, development of positive social interactions, and empathy for other students.
  2. Think of safety in schools as a multi-faceted issue to be approached holistically, and go beyond physical security measures to promote security and well-being.
  3. Understand the reciprocal role of a school and its community in relation to safety.
  4. Learn how an elementary school in North Carolina uses outdoor environments to enhance student well-being and safety.

Becky Brady

Becky Brady

Senior Architect
Clark Nexsen

Derek Burns

Douglas Elementary School
Wake County Public School System


March 18-20, 2021   Washington, D.C.

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