Acts of Kindness: The Brittain Early Learning Center

Acts of Kindness: The Brittain Early Learning Center

EUGENE, Ore. - Since 2013, Brattain Early Learning Center has been a hub for pre-kindergarten children and families with low-income, or who are at risk, or developmentally delayed.

It's a place for kids to become kindergarten ready, and beyond.

The center is home to various education programs, but the building's educational history goes way back. Originally a seven-room school, Brattain's doors opened in 1926, and stayed open to Springfield students until 2012.

Still, today its service to children and families continues, as well as the legacy of the land the building was constructed on.

"I believe this is the last repository of public land, and we should make more of it," said Hanalei Rozen, a volunteer at the center.

Almost a century ago, the Brattain land was used to grow wheat and berries. Now, Rozen is working to continue that gardening legacy. While she is not with the Springfield School District, Rozen volunteers several hours to an after school program.

Once a week, the morning and afternoon classes with the Early Learning Center get a taste of the outdoors.

"An outdoor room/home, and it really is a place for many of the kids where they can have some freedom, so it's structured, but not," said Rozen. "We learn about plants that we can eat, plants that we can't eat, what season to plant, what season to pick."

That loose structure stems from other lessons that Rozen incorporates into the program aside from gardening.

"They can point to how they feel, and then we can see, 'is there a plant that's sad or that's happy?'" said Rozen. "So, I try to find all sorts of props that we can use that are not just your regular gardening tools."

But the Community Learning Garden extends beyond after-school. Rozen continues the program in the summer for the neighborhood to enjoy.

"We've learned a lot about the plants and what parts we could eat, and some plants I didn't even know existed," said Serentiy Newett, who lives in the neighborhood.

But to expand the program, Rozen says she's in need of extra resources.

"In general it's self-supported. Not a lot of people know about it, and we could use plenty of hands," said Rozen.

She has plans to expand the garden, including setting up a social media page, upgrading paths to accommodate children with mobility issues, and an outdoor bathroom.

If you would like to donate to the program, donations can be made to the Springfield School District.

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