New 'natural playground' in Calgary aims to bring imagination back to play time
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Sonja Sahlen was inspired to start looking at ways to create a more welcoming and cooperative playground in Calgary's Haysboro area when she felt the existing playground wasn’t offering the right environment for kids.
After chatting with other members of the community, Sahlen realized lots of people in Haysboro felt the same way.
“It would work for about 10 to 15 minutes and then the kids would run off and just wanted to play in the trees," said Sahlen, the head of the Haysboro Community Association’s playground committee. "The play equipment lost its play value really quickly."
Eighteen months later, after multiple fundraisers, working with the city and Ground3 landscape architects, the official groundbreaking for the nature playground took place Sunday.
Through the use of fallen logs, tree stumps, slides embedded in hills, and other natural elements, the natural playground is designed to encourage imaginative free play, as well as foster a relationship between kids and nature at an early age.
“We see kids playing in trees and bushes and they are imaginative and they turn it in to their fort, or they take a big pile of snow it is their cave or castle,” said Sahlen. “They are playing together' they are creating in a cooperative and imaginative way—it is their stage.”
Kourtney Branagan, a parent and Haysboro community member, said the playground brings nature to their doorstep.
“We love going to the mountains and the reservoir, but having something that is just a little bit closer and is a little more challenging to the senses and not so straightforward is very appealing,” she said.
The first phase of the construction is scheduled to be completed by Sept. 1, and phase two will be completed in the summer of 2016.
Another natural playground is also in the works in Calgary's Forest Lawn community.