Located near Page and Skinker, the Good Shepherd Childhood Center is part of the Foundation for Strengthening Families (FSF), a non-for-profit that seeks to create stronger families through a unique early childhood educational philosophy: re-connecting children to nature. FSF believes that children can learn and grow best in a setting surrounded and embedded in nature. The new center is forging a new paradigm for childhood development that is actually centuries old: children should be outside and when they aren’t outside, then bring the outdoors inside. Nature, whether one is inside or outside, is a constant presence.

The concept of “growing children” within nature was first actively manifest in Scandinavia post WWII. Goesta Frohm created the idea of ‘Skogsmulle’ schools, from skog (forest) and mulle (a friendly forest-dwelling creature). He was seeing a widening chasm opening up between children and nature and decided to create a school where the children spend nearly 80% of their time outdoors, no matter what the weather conditions.

The pedigogical philosophy is based on what Scandinavians call friluftsliv (pronounced free-loofts-liv). The expression literally translates as “open-air living”.

The new proposed facility by JEMA incorporates and integrates nature into the building facade and interior. The building’s exterior, interior and playground will seek certification of the WELL Building Standard.

“The WELL Building Standard® is a performance-based system for measuring, certifying, and monitoring features of the built environment that impact human health and wellbeing, through air, water, nourishment, light, fitness, comfort, and mind.WELL is managed and administered by the International WELL Building Institute (IWBI), a public benefit corporation whose mission is to improve human health and wellbeing through the built environment.

WELL is grounded in a body of medical research that explores the connection between the buildings where we spend more than 90 percent of our time, and the health and wellness of its occupants. WELL Certified™ spaces and WELL Compliant™ core and shell developments can help create a built environment that improves the nutrition, fitness, mood, and sleep patterns.”

— USGBC website