When it comes to play, climbing over logs and balancing on stumps are activities typically associated with children playing in the forest. At Norgate Community Elementary School, however, these activities are now part of everyday school yard play.
"Our students absolutely love our new natural playground. Just getting outside and playing on elements that they would find if they were out in the woods is innately fun for them. There is something about connecting to nature that draws students into their learning and engages them through curiosity," said Tristan Crowther, Vice Principal, Norgate Community Elementary.
The new $30,000 natural play space was generously donated by Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds, with TD Friends of the Environment Foundation acting as a major contributor. The playground was installed as a temporary pop-up playground in Vancouver as a part of the Children and Nature Network International Conference, and Carolyn Scotchmer of TDFEF, in particular, played a large role in making sure the pop-up was featured heavily during the conference. Not wanting the playground to go to waste, Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds connected with Norgate Community Elementary's former vice principal, Victor Elderton, to arrange for the playground to be installed at the school once the conference was over.
"Elderton suggested that we move the playground to Norgate after, which was a fabulous idea. These students will benefit immensely from having an outdoor play space that is more engaging. The design also includes an amphitheatre perfect for teaching classes outside," said Adam Bienenstock, Founder/Principal Designer, Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds.
The playground includes a variety of natural elements: stumps, beams, plants. It was installed at the school during the last week of April.
"We can't thank Bienenstock enough for supporting our school with this new natural playground. It enables us to connect school to nature, and we use it every day for both teaching and play. Students at this school will benefit for years to come from this meaningful donation," said Barbara Leigh, Principal, Norgate Community Elementary School.