Our 2015 Public Interest Design/Build class partnered with Laraway Youth & Family Services, a non-profit agency that serves children and youth from across Vermont. Laraway’s mission is to provide opportunities for children and families to recognize their individual strengths while supporting them to grow and contribute within their communities. Four years ago, Laraway’s programs were relocated to a new campus in Johnson, Vermont—40 acres of prime farmland with a historic barn and farmhouse along the Lamoille River. The agency is working to create a resilient landscape that supports their organizational mission by integrating their services with the development of regenerative agricultural systems and outdoor recreational and horticultural therapy. The aim is to inspire, connect and prepare Laraway youth using the lens of ecological literacy and skill development.
A big part of supporting Laraway youth in their personal development is providing them with spaces for exploration and play. A centerpiece of the site development at their new home has been the playground. Laraway staff sought out Yestermorrow as a community partner because of its mission alignment and ability to provide non-traditional hands-on learning experiences. The footbridge built by the Yestermorrow class at Laraway is a gateway into the playground, passing over a small drainage full of wildflowers that separates the main buildings and the playground area. The structure can be used for play in and of itself. It also provides options for youth to navigate their way through the space and offers a bench for rest with expansive views across the property.