Grant Site Update: St. Nicholas Natural Playground and Environmental Education Project
The playground was installed by The Adventurous Child in October of 2016. Prior to the installation, the Playground Committee worked together to compare two companies to determine which would be best to meet the goals set forth in the grant proposal. The work included site visits to where the two companies had built playgrounds, meetings with playground company representatives, equipment selection and placement plan, and then the October installation. The lead members of the committee were Dave Sandrick, executive director, and Abby Vincent, board program committee chair. After waiting for two weeks to let the sod and grass seed take hold, the children were finally able to access the equipment, and they now use the playground twice a day when the weather permits.
The children and families absolutely love the playground, especially because most of the equipment the children interact with is made of natural, environmentally friendly materials. Without the new playground, children in our program would only have access to a grassy area with a few trees. Now, our children are able to learn from and interact with the environment. They are especially fond of the planter boxes (pictured below), and they have been learning about how flowers, fruits, and vegetables grow, as well as how worms live and move in the dirt and contribute to plant growth.
Due to the success of the UTO natural playground, additional funding was granted by Anthem Blue Cross and the United Way of Central Indiana to expand it to include more equipment that will promote physical activity and discussions of how to live a healthier life. This will include expanding the fence line, which will increase the area the children have to play in, and adding new pieces of equipment, to be installed again by The Adventurous Child. The work should take place in July and August of this year.
The Trinity Outreach Properties Committee of Trinity Episcopal Church will continue to provide the maintenance and upkeep for the playground. The committee recently agreed to provide additional funding to seed grass in the areas where the original seed did not take hold.
Now that the program has been open nine months and is almost at full capacity, the executive director, program staff, and board will begin discussions on how to work more collaboratively with the Trinity campus Green Team and community on environmental topics, including perhaps some joint activities and events. When the playground expansion is complete, a commemorative sign, giving credit to UTO and Anthem/UWCI will be purchased and installed at the entryway of the playground.