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Kids’ playground goes back to nature – Edmonton Journal

I love the fact that playgrounds are incorporating the stuff that kids love to play with the most – dirt, rocks, and sticks!

Children won’t find new monkey bars and bright plastic play structures at the upgraded Donnan Park.

Instead, the aging playground at 9105 80th Ave. will become Edmonton’s first “natural playground,” part of a growing trend in playground design.

Children in the redesigned Donnan Park will entertain themselves with such timehonoured playthings as rocks, sticks, sand and dirt. The overhauled space will feature a slide built into a hill, a sideways-growing tree, a boulder spiral, a hand pump to pour water into a small stream and plenty of plants, trees and greenery.

It will be “a beautiful garden that everyone plays in,” says Kory Baker-Henderson, co-chair of the neighbourhood committee that worked on the preliminary playground design with expertise from Ontario-based Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds.

“Around us there are already some typical playground structures, so we wanted to have something different that blends in with the (Mill Creek) ravine,” Baker-Henderson says.

“Studies have shown imaginative play is much more stimulated (in natural settings) and children actually will play longer and become much more involved than on a typical red, plastic slide structure. Their games will just get much more imaginative. There’s that connection with nature. We have plans for a community garden, so it’s a learning and teaching tool, too.”

The playground at Donnan Park currently has swings and a slide that will remain for now, but won’t be replaced, she says.

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