If you've driven past the doc fry community center lately, you may have noticed some big changes. All of the old, unsafe playground equipment, as well as some invasive plantings, have been removed from the property. After careful analysis of the existing equipment, and considerable discussions at open community meetings, it was determined the old equipment was unsalvageable and potentially dangerous. The old equipment had served its purpose over the years, and its removal leaves the facilities play area open for opportunity!
Children's play and the natural environment.
Although a natural play area may sound new in concept, the natural environment may in fact be the oldest, most productive facilitator to early learning and play. Incorporating the natural environment provides opportunity to engage sensory motor skills of younger children in ages of critical development. While traditionally designed playgrounds are very active, with experiences clearly outlined, a natural play area opens the doors for a much wider range of exploration, stimulation, and thought development, including:
Appropriate Risk Taking
Cognitive Skill Development
Trial and Error
Sense of Place
Community exploration of potential design features.
Lead by Bill Steinauer and Sharlene Pizza of the Warwick Valley Community Center board, multiple open meetings have been held with fabulous turnouts of parents and community members. Excellent input has consistently been brought by those in attendance in regards to the site, its elements, and potential natural design features. Local natural materials sculptor Dan Mack has generously volunteered his time providing invaluable insight into materials and potential design elements. Richard Pillar, a Local Landscape Architect, is working closely with Embrace Design Group to facilitate conversation at community meetings, and incorporate the group discussions into the design of a developing master plan. Many potential elements for the project have been inspired by other successful nature playgrounds. A few elements that have been discussed for inclusion in the design are:
The initial concept
While the nature playgrounds design is still drastically changing and evolving, an initial concept site plan has been developed to help visualize some of the ideas that have surfaced. The current design concept includes elements such as a dry river bed, bridgeways, sand pits, climbing logs, sound and water features, as well as a contemplative space and larger assembly area. The design also pays special attention to vegetation and includes rain gardens, native plantings, and other developing vegetative features.
There are a ton of ways to get involved and participate in the completion of this incredible community project! Sign up for our free newsletter to get connected with us on upcoming community meetings, need for volunteers, and other related events. If the meetings are not something you're interested in, the Warwick Valley Community Center can always use monetary support to help get this project off the ground! Every donation big and small will help to turn this nature playground into a beautiful community asset.
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!