ACER Thanks Knightsbridge Residents for Welcoming Project Crossroads Trees

ACER thanks Knightsbridge residents for welcoming Project Crossroads trees, to contribute much-needed cooling shade and sustained climate change research into areas hardest-hit by COVID-19 pandemic.

On October 29, the final of four community tree plantings was installed with local volunteers on the grounds of Peel Living social housing. Adhering to approved Peel Health screening and distancing protocols, they were supported by forestry staff and environmental researchers to plant and mulch large-caliper native species shade trees and pollinator bush plantings.

“Knightsbridge volunteers were enthusiastic to share their time and talent with us, and then tell their friends,” says Alice Casselman, Founder of ACER (Association for Canadian Educational Resources). “We invite more people of all ages and backgrounds to join us as TreeKeepers.”

 As a retired teacher, Alice is pleased to note some 37 service hours were logged by students from both Peel and Dufferin-Peel Catholic school boards. Outreach tapped  networks of school parents, faiths and service groups, settlement agencies and family-focussed non-profits. Publicity included public signage and handbills, amplified via a digital invitation, e-mails, collaborator websites, social media and an old‑fashioned telephone tree.

“By working together with residents, ACER has contributed its Project Crossroads research ‘proof of concept” to Bramalea’s Sustainable Neighbourhood Action Program (SNAP) for community-based climate change research.” says Alice. Knightsbridge was a prioritized site from data overlay of low tree canopy and high heat vulnerability, and social data for policing, proportionately higher newcomers, and lowest decile income.
 
Repeat volunteers over the four events reinforce the survey results: People who spoke of their isolation and low mood as a result of the pandemic immediately felt better during and after the tree planting activity. 

Boys and Girls Club of Peel (BGC Peel) joined ACER as its on-the-ground partner, during lockdown in May. BGC Peel has not yet been able to reopen its program facilities.

“We are very appreciative that ACER came to us with an opportunity to reconnect with our families, by promoting and encouraging our vulnerable Knightsbridge community to engage in ACER’s safe plantings that got them out of their homes,” says Michael Gyovai, Executive Director.

“We are desperately in need of programs to promote healthy environment, bring caring and supportive services so our communities learn how collaboration and growing together helps everyone to thrive.”

Project Crossroads’ demonstration in the context of COVID-19, has also addressed emergent gaps in education.

ACER’s website www.acer-acre.ca posts newly-created outdoor/online/remote curriculum units with digital instructions and training videos with support of municipal forestry mulching partners, and created an opportunity to support Sheridan College program interns with secondary school volunteers to complete fieldwork to map 400 trees at Brampton’s William Davis campus.

Launched in September 2019, Project Crossroads supports urban reforestation in Brampton’s E, F and K sections. ACER collaborated with Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) and City of Brampton Parks and Forestry to test three new planting models.

ACER’s precedent-setting collaboration was funded by Arbor Day Foundation under the TD Green Space program, to test three new planting models.

Since 1987, ACER has developed outdoor, online, and remote volunteer opportunities to promote outdoor education that connects curriculum to the environment. ACER’s signature Planting for Change native species tree suites for climate change research has been established more than 60 school yard sites across the Greater Toronto Area. It is recognized under the City of Mississauga – One Million Tree initiative.

For further information about ACER, contact Alice Casselman via e-mail at alice.casselman@acer-acre.ca.