provided to The Santiva Chronicle
Hurricane Ian has caused much loss and pain to the families of Sanibel and SWFL. One of the most impactful losses to our community has been the loss of our beloved nature preschool, Children’s Education Center of the Island. Nature has always been at the forefront of what makes Sanibel special. White pelicans migrate here, and turtles come to nest. Dolphins play near the shore at sunset, and it is in this magical environment that our small nature program exists.
CECI teaches children to love nature through rich sensory experiences and responsive care. Visit the school on any given day, and you will find small children barefoot in the garden or building sand communities on the nature playground. Once a week, the children don their boots for nature hikes. You might stop in the classroom and find a yoga class or step outside and find children painting with sticks or playing in rainwater collected explicitly for their exploration.
They test their balance on a slack line strung among the palm trees and care for animals in outdoor and indoor settings. Most importantly, though, they care for each other through learning social skills and collaborative building projects. They learn to care for the Earth through interactions with nature. The average American child spends four to seven minutes outdoors a day. This has led experts to coin the term “nature deficit disorder, ” which leads to many physical, emotional, and cognitive difficulties. At CECI, the child and their experience in nature is at the forefront of their developmental experiences.
A reflection of Sanibel itself, CECI is a place protected from the fast-paced supercharged, at times overwhelming, inertia of the outside world. A place where children can learn and grow in a natural way. As we work together to rebuild our beautiful island, we ask for your help to rebuild this tiny jewel of a school. Many people are surprised to learn that there is a preschool on the island, but it has been here since 1974 when a group of parents, who believed in the special spirit of Sanibel, came together to create a school that would help foster these beliefs in their children. We hope that you will help us to rebuild this special place. CECI is a 501c3 nonprofit school, so any generosity you can share is tax deductible. Thank you for your help keeping this beautiful school alive. Don’t hesitate to contact Andrea Murphy at (239) 888-7335 or email Ceciboardpresident@gmail.com for more information.