Sarita – Founder

Sarita grew up in Harlem with Central Park as her access to nature. Early education began at the noteworthy progressive school Central Park East, founded by Deborah Meier who is often considered the founder of the modern small school movement. Frequent trips to the park where soil samples were obtained and then included in elementary science class contributed to a deepened curiosity about the world around her.

Today Sarita is a social entrepreneur and multi-disciplinary artist, who received her MFA from Yale. As
an anti-racist community organizer she co-founded ACRE (Artists Co-Creating Real Equity). As a teaching artists she has worked in diverse communities among young people and adults. Her work has received support from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, the Open Meadows Foundation, The Puffin Foundation and the Jerome Foundation.

She has been an artist in residence through SPARC (Seniors Partnering with Artists Citywide) and BAX (Brooklyn Arts Exchange) and currently serves on the Advisory council for The Field Leadership Fund.

Sarita has taught and facilitated workshops among a variety of communities including the inmates at the Fishkill Correctional Facility, the Yale Schools of Divinity and Drama through a course entitled, ‘The Quest for Social Justice; Through Music, Theater and Religion’, Artspace’s City Wide Open Studios, NYC Public Schools, Philadelphia Charter School students, Danish High School students, Mexican youth in a Tijuana orphanage and the 59th Street Project.

She is a mom to Sunshine who is 2 and a half.

Stephan and Sunshine

Stephan and Sunshine

Stephan - co founder

Stephan grew up in Denmark and in 1972 Stephan’s parents, inspired by the pioneer spirit of some neighbors, put him in a forest kindergarten where he among many other things gained friends for life. Including Karl Michael Sloth who went on to teaching at the forest kindergarten Naturbørnehaven i Skovshoved in Denmark. Karl Michael now serves as one of the chief consultants of Upper Manhattan Forest Kids.

Growing up in nature and being outside was always part of Stephan’s life and with both parents being musicians and music educators music was always a natural part as well in many different ways.

Stephan is a saxophonist  who began his career in the U.S. after a scholarship
brought him to Berklee College of Music in 1993. After graduating with honors Stephan has lived in New York City since 2001 where he currently lives with his wife Sarita and daughter Sunshine maintaining a busy performing schedule, while teaching saxophone, composing music and repairing saxophone mouthpieces.

Karl Michael with kids from his Danish forest kindergarten.

Karl Michael with kids from his Danish forest kindergarten.

Karl Michael – Forest school consultant.

Karl Michael’s connection to Upper Manhattan Forest School begins with his own inner child. Being part of one of the first forest school projects in Denmark as a kid in the early seventies provided a positive effect on Karl’s life as he grew older as well as influencing what nature and creativity means to him. In a world that has become more and more technological and distanced from nature, children have more than ever before a need to experience their body and mind in the ever changing and fascinating world – that is just outside their modern regulated life – called nature.

As an adult, Karl Michael became a kindergarten teacher in a forest school. He witnessed first hand how children that enjoy regular visits to nature have a different awareness and improved mobile capabilities.

Using whatever is at hand within nature for playing, experiencing cold during the winter, the breeze during the summer, the warmth of a bonfire, the taste of caught fish, picked berries and mushrooms,  gives children a foundational experience that makes them able to handle abstract problems later on in life.

In daily life, Karl Michael is a father to four fantastic kids ranging from ages 18 to 2 years old. Karl Michael holds a Masters in Philosophy, specializing in children’s rights, and is currently working on his PHD thesis regarding the connection between identity and the concept of what it means to master something.

He lives north of Copenhagen with his girlfriend – close to nature – which is still a big part of his life.