Everyone is invited to celebrate the opening of the new Natural Playground at Gateway Natural Area! The playground features natural materials and provides lots of opportunity for imaginative free play in the outdoors.
The celebration will be Tuesday, July 5, at 2:30 p.m., light refreshments will be served and the $5 parking fee will be waived. No registration is necessary.
Staff from several departments and volunteers (including children) helped build the playground where a crumbling building foundation once stood. Most of the materials for the playground were reused/ recycled or were found on site. Elements include stepping stumps, a rock streambed, a wooden boardwalk, a sandy area, a carved boat, a rustic log ladder, rock walls and a green tunnel of plants.
The playground is envisioned as a place for children to connect with nature. The City’s Natural Playground is part of an international movement to combat the disconnect between young people and the outdoors, sometimes called “Nature Deficit Disorder”. Research has confirmed this disconnect and has associated trends such as obesity, chronic disease and behavioral issues with disconnection from nature. Outdoor play benefits include healthy development, physical and mental health, general wellbeing and positive attitudes towards the environment and natural resources later in life. Four volumes of research on children’s connection to nature and its benefits have been compiled by the national Children and Nature Network, see http://www.childrenandnature.org/research/
. The City’s Natural Areas Program has been active in a local collaborative, Children and Nature Connection- Northern Colorado, http://www.kidsnatureconnection.org/
and the City is a part of Larimer County’s Plug In To Nature project- a gap analysis of nature connection opportunities funded by Great Outdoors Colorado.
Gateway Natural Area is about a 30-minute drive from downtown Fort Collins on Poudre Canyon Road/ Highway 14, 5 miles west of the junction of Highway 287 and Highway 14 (Ted’s Place). Learn more about Gateway Natural Area at www.fcgov.com/naturalareas/finder/gateway