Heritage Park Natural Learning Environment
Heritage Park is a public housing community administered by the Raleigh Housing Authority. Communities in Schools North Carolina (CISNC), the leading dropout prevention organization in the country, established an after-school tutoring program based at the Heritage Park Community Center and wanted to create an outdoor learning area with easy access from the building. In 2002, the Junior League of Raleigh committed to assist and appointed NLI as a partner to facilitate the community planning process and to develop a schematic design. The project is aimed at providing a high quality learning environment for all Heritage Park residents, including children and youth. To this end, a series of participatory community workshops was held with residents, sponsors, and children. The result was a carefully articulated plan to transform the site into an educational and recreational facility for enjoyment of all ages.
The project purpose is to:
- Enhance the quality of life of the children living in Heritage Park.
- Provide playing and learning opportunities to support their healthy development.
- Create environments that improve professional effectiveness of the CLCNC staff.
- Support community development – and identity, by creating outdoor spaces that reflect the cultural values of the residents of Heritage Park.
Many other organizations have been involved in implementation on the ground. Landscape designer Harriet Bellerjeau created the construction documents and supervised the construction of Phase One. Trees Across Raleigh and Service Raleigh installed trees donated by Taylors Nursery, Raleigh. Local contractors donated construction of a transition deck and new entrance from the Community Center building to the Natural Learning Environment so that children would remain in a secure outdoor environment