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WAWA's Environmental Education Pedagogy

We believe in the POWER OF PLAY!

For almost 25 years, WAWA has carved out unique pathways to connect people to nature.

We recently published our ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION PEDAGOGY, a framework for how we teach, what we teach, and why. This pedagogy synthesizes years of alternative education practices.

See our five principles below and learn more here.

Power of Play

In a world where everyday activities like running can be a risk for Black communities, WAWA prioritizes our sites as safe spaces for all youth to be wild and curious. Our environmental education engages the senses and encourages play-based learning.


  • Reggio Emilia Approach

  • Kindergarten in the Forest

Place-Based Learning

Our work has always centered on the urban environment and our surrounding watersheds (Proctor, Utoy, and Sandy Creek). We use our local eco-region as a backdrop to conveniently connect youth to the environment around them and to make their appreciation for the outdoors accessible in proximity.


  • The Nature School

Cultural Relevance

As an organization that advocates for environmental justice, we situate our education programs in Black history, indigenous knowledge, and “ecological unity and the interdependence of all species”, We also infuse Afro-Futurism into our programming to invite people to think beyond their circumstances and envision the life they deserve.


  • See 17 Principles of EJ

  • Black Children: Their Roots, Culture, and Learning Styles, Janice Hale

Inquiry Instruction

We encourage self-directed learning and activities that probe youth to teach themselves, problem solve and maintain awareness. This principle is rooted in self-determination/actualization and the belief that we must care for ourselves first in order to take care of the world around us.


  • Pedagogy of the Oppressed, Paulo Freire​

Social Constructivism

Whether it is the educators at WAWA or elders, youth’s knowledge is constructed through their relationships with others. We are an ecosystem and each input impacts the other whether it’s classroom peers or a community elder, we all construct our learning with influence from the people within our ecosystem.


  • The Whole-Brain Child, Daniel J. Siegel


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