Child Development Center Kids Design Signage to Draw Attention to the Environment
Children in Kent State University’s Child Development Center are sending a strong message about the environment through posters and signage that they designed to draw attention to the dangers of littering and benefits of recycling.
The children in rooms 4 and 8 at the center, ages 3-5 years, often spend time outdoors as part of their weekly learning experiences. They expressed concern about the amount of litter they had observed during their outdoor trips, especially in the meadows along the Portage Hike and Bike Trail, which is located behind their school. With guidance from their teachers, they decided to do something about it by communicating their thoughts in poster designs to move people to rethink their actions.
“The teachers documented the children’s words and asked them what they would like to tell others about what they discovered, and what kind of earth they wanted to live in,” says Carol Bersani, director of the Child Development Center at Kent State. “A recurring theme that we discovered was their interest in caring for the natural environment and the effects of littering on the animals.”
A parent with design experience collected the children’s messages to help create poster and signage designs to spread their message.
Three signs showcasing the children’s designs have been installed on the Kent Campus — near the observation deck and walking bridge in the meadows, and near the “monkey trees,” a grove of magnolia trees at Cunningham Hall. The children’s poster design also has been placed on PARTA buses that circle the campus and run throughout Portage County.
“If you litter, you could hurt the animals, and we don’t want to hurt them,” wrote 5-year-old Rmeyeni on the PARTA poster.
“It’s your responsibility to throw litter in the trash,” Aiden, age 5, wrote.
“Please don’t throw litter in the pond. Fish don’t like it,” a child wrote on the campus signage.
“Everywhere we go, we see litter. We should put signs up so everything will be clean,” another wrote.
“We were approached by Carol Bersani, director of the center, about the possibility of displaying the children’s artwork regarding litter,” says Brain Pickering, project manager in Kent State’s Office of the University Architect. “I think it is a great idea to use the many resources on campus to provide new ways of presenting necessary messages. Hopefully, by presenting the message in a different format, people will take the time to stop and read the message and think about how others feel about their actions.”
Joseph Yensel, manager of Operations and Information Technology for PARTA, lauds the children for encouraging members of the public to show respect for their environment.
“Not littering seems to be the most straight forward concept for children to understand how to respect their environment, and that goes nicely with PARTA’s green initiatives,” Yensel says. “PARTA accepts these types of public messages at no charge quite frequently in an effort to support the local community.”
Room 4 teacher Laurie Kidwell’s class of 19 children designed the PARTA bus posters. Kidwell says that it is important for the children to have a voice and be able to express themselves.
“These kids are strong, confident and capable, and it is important that we help them reach out and spread their message, not only to the Kent State community, but to other communities beyond our campus,” says Kidwell.
“I was blown away by the connections that they made and their strong passion for the environment,” says Jessica Brannon, Room 8 teacher, whose class of 20 children created the signage design. “It shows that they are capable guardians of our planet.”
Through the center’s Environmental Care project, the children also are building a passion for recycling and spreading the message by encouraging their family members and friends to recycle more.
“The Environmental Care project has been a wonderful experience for my son,” says Traci E. Williams, associate lecturer in Kent State’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication, whose 5-year-old son was in Kidwell’s class last year. “It has made him to become more aware of the environment. For example, he looks at the bottom of plastic bottles in our home for recycling codes, and saves paper towel and toilet paper rolls to create things out of, such as robots. He doesn’t like to see any kind of litter on the ground and he doesn’t hesitate to tell people that they need to be kind to the earth.”
For more information about Kent State University’s Child Development Center, visit www.kent.edu/ehhs/centers/cdc.