The Okaloosa Public Schools Foundation
THE OKALOOSA PUBLIC SCHOOLS FOUNDATION
(SILVER SANDS SCHOOL)
The Okaloosa Public Schools Foundation (OPSF), in partnership with the Choctaw Basin Alliance (CBA), UF/IFAS extension office, and the Okaloosa County School Districts special needs school, Silver Sands is excited by the GROWTH House IMPACT 100 NWF grant. The OPSFs mission is to take our schools well beyond the basic state law of providing students a free and appropriate public education.
The Silver Sands School serves students with significant cognitive impairments and physical disabilities from both Okaloosa and Walton County school districts. The goal of the school is to prepare students ages 3-22 for the productive life they will lead as special needs citizens in our community.
The GROWTH House will consist of a state-of-the-art greenhouse with hydroponic and aquaponic (utilizing live fish to naturally fertilize crops) systems for growing plants. The GROWTH House will be built on school grounds and promote the teaching of core subject areas, socialization, vocational rehabilitation, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and relationships!
Those relationships will include the CBA, which serves Okaloosa and Walton Counties. Their mission includes sustaining healthy local waterways through monitoring, education, restoration and research. The GROWTH House would immediately allow the CBA to double its seagrass production through their Grasses in Classes program, increase volunteerism for both the school and the CBA, and lead to increased awareness of the capabilities of these students.
The UF/IFAS Okaloosa/Walton extension office will be available to support the horticulture program in the GROWTH House through its Master Gardener program. Master Gardeners are trained gardening professionals who provide at least 50 hours of community service annually. The GROWTH House will help increase the number of Master Gardeners in Okaloosa and Walton counties.
The unique design of the GROWTH House will reduce the labor intensiveness of horticulture. This reduces the difficulty of tasks, allowing all disabled students the opportunity to GROW extensively and successfully. Secondly, the ease of growing will help us to promote volunteerism at our school.
Volunteers in the school will serve a unique role transcending horticulture. Volunteers will model the people and environment of the traditional workplace, business, and community that our students must enter after graduating from Silver Sands School. Students will learn to be comfortable with a variety of people and situations. In addition, GROWTH House volunteers will grow because working with our students is truly a motivating and inspirational activity for the heart.
This project will allow our students to learn socialization skills to help them find work in our community that aligns with their abilities. The GROWTH House is ultimately about helping our most vulnerable students prepare for a life when they graduate from our school and into our community. The GROWTH House will help with life skills that go beyond traditional curriculum to make a profound IMPACT in our community.
It is a real honor and blessing to be awarded the IMPACT 100 NWF grant. Our school, students, families, and surrounding community are now set to be connected better than ever before. IMPACT 100 NWF is now CHAMPION of The GROWTH House, a collaborative project that will enrich and change lives while promoting many types of growth in our local environment.
Silver Sands School is a public school serving students with significance cognitive impairments and physical disabilities from both Okaloosa and Walton County school districts. The goal of the school is to prepare students ages 3-22 for the productive life they will lead as special needs citizens in our community. The Growth House is a school based enterprise and horticulture program promoting the teaching of: core subject areas, socialization, vocational rehabilitation, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy, and RELATIONSHIPS! It will consist of a state of the art greenhouse with hydroponic and aquaponics systems for growing.
Inside this collaborative effort are two organizations whose goals are also met by the Growth House. First is the Choctaw basin Alliance (CBA). The CBA, serving Okaloosa and Walton Counties, is a non -profit organization responsible for sustaining healthy local waterways through monitoring, education, restoration, and research. The UF/IFAS extension office will be available to support the horticulture program in the GROWTH House as it does for all of Okaloosa and Walton Counties through its Master Gardener program. The GROWTH House will help increase Master Gardener participation in Okaloosa and Walton County.
Promoting volunteerism is of primary importance in the GROWTH House. Volunteers in the school will serve a unique roll transcending horticulture. Volunteers will serve in an instructional capacity by replicating the people and environment associated with the traditional workplace, business, and community that our students must enter after graduating from Silver Sands School. We welcome volunteer organizations as beneficiaries of the GROWTH House because working with our students is truly a motivating and inspirational activity for the heart.
Making an IMPACT in our world today requires dynamic planning, strong work ethic, and so many other characteristics, which The GROWTH House will certainly embody. But the most important thing needed to make an IMPACT is a CHAMPIO N. IMPACT 100 NWF, through its highly dedicated membership base, has a proven track record of being that CHAMPION for great causes locally. If you long to be a champion for others and believe you are destined to make an IMPACT in our local community, join IMPACT 100 NWF and become the type of positive change you want to see in the world today!
Jon Williams, Principal, Silver Sands School Okaloosa Public Schools Foundation