Saskatchewan

North Battleford natural playground connecting kids with nature

The Early Childhood Intervention Program and the City of North Battleford have teamed together to build a natural playground for kids to connect with nature.

Playground includes boulders, tree trunks, hills and pathways

The park has boulders, tree trunks hills, a teepee set by local elders and four swings. (Eric Anderson)

A playground in North Battleford, Sask. is aiming to build stronger connections between kids and nature.

Instead of the usual plastic slides and metal monkey bars, this playground in Centennial Park has boulders, tree trunks, hills and pathways. It also has a teepee set up by local elders.

Colleen Sabraw, executive director of the Battlefords Early Childhood Intervention Program (BECI), says this is a project two years in the making.

"I don't think kids are getting outside into the trees and rocks and dirt as much as I think they need to be," she said on CBC Radio's Morning Edition.

"We're seeing kids spend a lot of time indoors and not so much outdoors except at recess time." 

Colleen Sabraw, executive director of the Battlefords Early Childhood Intervention Program, hopes the playground will foster teamwork and fun through playing outside. (Eric Anderson)

She said BECI wanted to leave a legacy in North Battleford and help kids get outside more, so they started researching natural playgrounds.

"We know how important it is to get back to nature and get outside and play," she said.

Sabraw says the City of North Battleford contributed $50,000, with BECI matching that contribution through donations, grants and other resources.

She says she wants kids to be able to experience nature within city limits, especially those who don't have access to a big backyard.

The playground includes a teepee set up by elders. (Eric Anderson)

Another goal is to spark kids' imaginations.

"Every time they come to this park it's new play," she said.

The playground opened last month in Centennial Park, but it isn't entirely finished. Colleen Sabraw hopes to incorporate a wheelchair swing, a sensory pathway for kids to walk barefoot on and a water feature. (Eric Anderson)

"Each time they come they do something different and experience something different."

She says the project isn't quite finished. The playground is currently wheelchair accessible, but she hopes to incorporate a wheelchair swing, a sensory pathway for kids to walk barefoot on and a water feature.

"I hope that the park is something that I can take my grandchildren to one day and we can all be very, very proud of it."

With files from CBC Radio's Morning Edition

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