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Natural Play

By Whirl Construction (419 words)
Posted in Commercial Playgrounds on November 6, 2014

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            With organic restaurants and juice bars popping up all over the community, how will this affect architecture and parks? Throughout the country boundaries in the park industry are being pushed and town officials are being challenged to think outside the box in park design. Natural parks are a growing trend and have been said to improve agility, coordination, balance, and an appreciation for nature. With all of this being said, will this “granola” trend stick in the playground industry or will it will it turn out to be just another fad?

            The University of Tennessee, Knoxville studied how children used traditional style playground equipment to make renovations on their existing park. The team built slides into surrounding hills, integrated logs and trees and ultimately created a more nature-based park. After the playground was complete, the children were studied again. According to the Department of Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport Studies at UT results proved that there were many positive changes and natural play areas work better for kids.

     While instilling a more simplistic way of life and modesty in our youth could lead to a more creative and resourceful future, a good natural playground needs to be well thought out and can be time consuming to set up. However, natural elements can always be added to traditional parks to add interest and usefulness. While more rustic playgrounds may appear to need less maintenance, that is not all true. These parks still need regular safety inspection and surfaces need to be properly maintained.

     All in all, natural playgrounds definitely have their benefits as far as creativity and physical challenges. However, while natural parks encourage wonder and exploration in children, they do require a standard of maintenance and awareness.  By finding a balance between natural and traditional parks,  a more controlled level of nature can be instated. With this being said, it is important to make sure our children are spending time outdoors. By instilling an appreciation for nature in our youth, we are giving sense of responsibility and compassion for our environment. Outdoor play of any kind is undeniably a good thing and natural playgrounds definitely have their set of positives. Time will tell what  the future holds for natural parks, and hopefully this trend will at least bring more awareness to our environment.

What do you have to say about natural parks? Have we gone too far or is this new trend something society can really benefit from?

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