Connecting to the Past while Designing for the Future

by Kelsey  Moline, Classroom Designer/ Project Coordinator for Nature Explore.

Although designing outdoor classrooms for children is something that is always dear to my heart, last February I was able to impact a site that held personal significance to me.

It was not until our Nature Explore Design Consultation team arrived at the Nebraska Children’s Home
Society in Omaha that the memories of my adoption days returned. I don’t remember the actual day I was adopted because I was just a baby but my parents tell me it was snowy day filled with emotion. What I do remember are the times we spent giving back to an agency responsible for linking my parents and I together to create a wonderful family, an event we could never replace.  For many years, my family and I would spend the day visiting the home on the adoption day. We donated toys and books and celebrated the work of the Children’s Home Society. Therefore, I was overjoyed when I found out that we were asked to design an outdoor play space at the Children’s Home.

I often think of how different my life could have been without the gift of adoption. In selfless love and enormous compassion, my birthparents decided they could not provide me a sufficient lifestyle. Words cannot express how much I appreciate the chance of a better life. Hoping to pay it forward, this was my opportunity to create a special place for the children at the Nebraska Children’s Home Society.

It is amazing how a well-designed outdoor space can have a lasting impression on a child. Many of my young memories reflect the time I spent outdoors. Therefore, when creating an outdoor space, I try to recreate experiences reminiscent of my childhood days: being able to explore through the grass and flagstone, pretending to survive off the edible fruits, and creating works of art with flowers, pinecones, and leaves. It is my greatest hope to provide this sense of wonder to many young children through the design of a Nature Explore Classroom.