Participatory workshops: hands-on planning for sustainable schools
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In this exploration, participatory planning workshops are used to implement the Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) initiative in a grade six class in Winnipeg. The approach is an effective student-centered strategy that meets the needs of children with a range of learning abilities. The benefits of participatory planning workshops for students with special needs emerged as a key success of the process. Grounded in the principles of community engagement, this document connects children’s rights to citizenship with the need to engage children in planning for sustainable development. Semi-structured interviews were integral to understanding the unique needs of the participant class. Challenges that emerged during the parental consent and student assent process are examined and strategies for future interdisciplinary collaborations are identified. An extensive literature review explores the emergence of youth participation in planning and a range of best practices for engaging children in participatory student-led processes. This research investigates international strategies for implementing the ESD initiative and considers emergent best practices at student, institutional and government levels. Schools are examined as components of community infrastructure that influence neighbourhood design and shape development. As school infrastructure ages and school facilities are challenged to become more sustainable, engaging with school communities in planning, design, renovation or building will be an important skill for planning professionals. Developing the necessary knowledge, skills and values to engage children in planning processes is illustrated as an integral component of this process.