Children's Nature Playscape brings nature to Kalamazoo's urban core

The Nature playscape is one of the country’s largest natural playscapes in an urban core. It is located in the heart of downtown to give kids the opportunity to interact with nature. 

Journalism Intern Sanaa Littlejohn, at the scene during the playscape grand opening.

 

The grand opening of the Children's Nature Playscape took place on July 17, 2022. The Children’s Nature Playscape is a nature-inspired playground for kids ages 2-10.

 

Its goal is to be a place for unstructured play incorporating natural elements. Running through the center of the playscape is the bubbling boulder stream, a little creek lined with varying sizes of rocks along the bottom. It includes waterfalls that allow for children to stand at different levels and carefully move between them. Some other elements include: log climbing tower, climbing net, and a boulder climb.

 

Play river

Children playing in the bubbling boulder stream at the Nature Playscape grand opening.

 

The Nature playscape is one of the country’s largest natural playscapes in an urban core. It is located in the heart of downtown to give kids the opportunity to interact with nature. 

 

“We want to promote equitable access to nature, intentionally interrupting the disparities in access to nature sometimes caused by city boundaries,” said Jody Brylinsky, Chairwomen for the Children’s Nature Playscape.

 

The Playscape is open Tuesday/Thursday, 11-3 p.m, Saturday from 10-3 p.m. and Sunday 12-4 p.m. These short hours are temporary, to allow plant life to flourish. 

 

Phase one of this project was finished as of the grand opening, but several more things are to come in the next phase. 

 

During the next phase, they hope to add a play performance stage, a larger climbing structure in the shape of a tree and a small bathroom.  Most of the grass and plants that were planted during phase one should be flourishing by phase two. As the plants and grass flourish, a secret garden will come to life near the Bubbling Boulder Stream, said Brylinsky. 

 

The Children’s Nature Playscape welcomes children to come play and enjoy the things to offer. They hope that the Playscape can bring the community closer together.

 

The Leader of the design team had the chance to say a few words to the public during the opening. 

 

“I just want to say again how much of an honor it is to be involved in the project and that… this is truly a transformational project for the community,” said OCBA President, Sandy Bliesener.

 

Mayor David Anderson said a few words to the public. 

 

“Great communities are built by people who live in the community,” said Mayor Anderson.

 

Community stakeholders hope this park will be a place for children to find nature, and a place for parents to come together and build connections.

 

“Such fun and chaos! There’s a lot of kids… In a year, it will be totally green and we will need more volunteers,” said First Congregational Church member, Deb Dunstone.

 

Parents present at the grand opening expressed gratitude for the careful planning that went into the playscape and its design. One mother, Bianca Essie, said that the playscape embodies unity, togetherness and a love for all children.

 

Children playing at the grand opening show lots of excitement over the new structures.

 

“I like going in the water,” said 4-year-old Margaret.

 

“So we can make new friends.. and play [pretend] … Just have fun,” said 8-year-old Elliott.