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 from a mulched space with fallen twigs and small logs to a dynamic area where children can 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 help fund the materials for our community volunteers to construct one durable storage bench or part of a simple “mud kitchen.” Gifts of any amount will go toward our biggest projects - including $20,000 in labor and construction of a hill and tunnel that will double as seating for a kid's stage area, and transport and installation of fallen tree trunks for climbing and stacking. We also welcome material donations of recycled wood and metal kitchen implements to stock the mud kitchen and make musical instruments to hang from trees. Donations of any size are so much appreciated!
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.