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Grant-funded winter duds keep preschoolers warm

East Grand Rapids — This school year, the East Grand Rapids Schools Foundation made its first-ever preschool-level donation, giving about $2,677 to help keep kids warm and dry at Woodcliff Early Childhood Center.

Hilary Berens, a Young Fives teacher in her first year at WECC, requested the funds out of a desire to keep outdoor learning going even during the cold winter months.

Emmy stays warm during an outing with WECC classmates (courtesy)

“Even into our first year here at WECC I knew that I wanted to pursue outdoor education as much as possible,” Berens said. “With my whole heart I believe that all children, especially ages 4-5 years old, thrive emotionally and academically with more freedom to move, engage and experience the outdoors and can learn while they play.”

Shortly after starting in her position, Berens submitted a request to the foundation asking for help with funding winter gear. Berens’ proposal was later approved during the foundation’s record-breaking fall grant round

The grant paid for children’s rain boots, waders, waterproof mittens, winter hats, raincoats, umbrellas, boot racks and more for WECC students and teachers. 

“These resources help keep our students dry, warm and comfortable so we can have many learning lessons outdoors,” said Berens.

Jay Forstner, communications director for the foundation, said the winter duds were put to the test during the chilliest chunks of the season, and the gear held up.

Read more from East Grand Rapids:
District to break ground on early childhood center addition
Pioneer Partners provides picture of ‘community rising as one’

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Riley Kelley
Riley Kelley
Riley Kelley is a reporter covering Cedar Springs, Grand Rapids, East Grand Rapids and Sparta school districts. An award-winning journalist, Riley spent eight years with the Ludington Daily News, reporting, copy editing, paginating and acting as editor for its weekly entertainment section. He also contributed to LDN’s sister publications, Oceana’s Herald-Journal and the White Lake Beacon. His reporting on issues in education and government has earned accolades from the Michigan Press Association and Michigan Associated Press Media Editors. Riley’s early work in journalism included a stint as an on-air news reporter for WMOM Radio, and work on the editorial staff of various student publications. Riley is a graduate of Grand Valley State University. He originally hails from western Washington.


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