Nature Play in Children’s Lives at West Ridge Nature Preserve
We know that today’s children are drifting toward ever more structured lives. Adult structured activities and solitary use of screens take up much of their free time. Help counter this drift by supporting the enhancement of West Ridge Nature Preserve’s Nature Play Area.
Who We Are
Our dedicated group of parents, grandparents, neighbors, former schoolteachers and environmental stewards are working to carve out space in the city where kids can connect with nature and accrue the benefits of unstructured creative play. You can find the first phase of our nature play area tucked among native trees, shrubs and plants on the east side of the West Ridge Nature Preserve. The preserve - with its pond, wetland, savanna and oak woods – is an urban oasis amidst two of the busiest streets in Chicago, with entry at 5801 N. Western Avenue (Ardmore and Western).
The Nature Play Area project will enhance our current play area. We will go from a mulched space with fallen twigs and small logs to a space that provides children with opportunities to dig pits, build teepees and forts, climb fallen trees, roll down a hill, walk through tall grass, balance on logs, play in a mud kitchen, perform to an audience sitting on boulders on the side of a hill and so much more! Families, school groups and youth groups will use this space for years to come.
The Chicago Park District approved our plan. Now we must raise the funds to move forward: Just $25 will purchase a set of metal child-sized tools for our digging area, $75 will provide plantings tall enough to create a path where kids can play hide and seek, and $100 will fund the materials for our community volunteers to construct a durable storage bench or a simple “mud kitchen.” Gifts of any amount will go toward soil and boulders for a hill, tree parts for climbing and stacking, and reclaimed materials for making musical instruments to hang from trees. Needed immediately are funds to purchase materials for initial upgrades. Volunteer crews will use these materials for a workday to be held on Earth Day, April 21.
As children explore and interact in the West Ridge Nature Preserve’s Nature Play Area, they will also improve their cognitive, creative, social and physical skills. In the process, we hope they’ll also fall in love with nature and become future stewards of the environment.