This post is sponsored by TD and the TD Common Ground Project. As always, all opinions are my own.

Apparently I’m a millennial. Yeah, I’m not sure how I feel about that, but knowing I’m in a group that’s considered old millennials makes me feel a touch better (although I’m not sure how I feel about the “old” part, either).

As a kid, I remember going off an exploring; doing my own thing: Making up games in the park across the street, or my neighbours lawn, or exploring the nature trails. We had no cell phones. I was being a kid. I was safe. It was all unstructured play.

According to the 2015 Participaction report card (remember those Body Break commercials – I’ll bet the old millennials will) the number one recommendation for children’s health is more unstructured play.

Thanks to a grant from the TD Common Ground Project,  a new natural playground will be built at Ralph Klein Regional Park in the SE of Calgary to encourage all kinds of creative, unstructured play.

Ralph Klein Park is a beautiful 156 hectare park located on a constructed wetland in the south east of the city; however, it has a historically low attendance rate. The park’s Envrionmental Education Centre sees 15,000 visitors per year, with school programs bringing almost 10,000 students, teachers and parents through the park annually.

The natural playground will also become a valuable asset and component of The City of Calgary’s plan to challenge Calgarian’s to rethink outdoor play and grow a new citizenry of nature lovers. Earlier this month I spoke with a member of The City of Calgary’s Park Services and the City has engaged school-aged children who attend educational programs at Ralph Klein Regional Park to provide their insight on what a natural play structure would look like to them. Suggestions from children ranged from a snake pit to a zipline.

A few weeks ago I paid a visit to the park in the event, and was taken aback at just how beautiful the park is. It’s set far enough from the city that you feel like you’ve escaped, but it’s only a 30-minute drive from downtown.  If you were following along on IG Stories, I met a gopher, and commented the park would be a lovely location for a date night (with bug spray, of course).

The park is connected to the city’s pathway system and boasts an Environmental Education Centre, art installations, and a man-made wetland (note: due to the wetland and the residential birds, dogs are not permitted in the park). The grounds have a picnic area and a community orchard that boasts five varieties of pear trees and eight varieties of apple trees.

The park was designed so that all elements of the built environment (including the facilities, activities and amenities) were seamlessly integrated into the landscape. The park’s final design was inspired by the forms of the Canadian Prairies, with natural systems exposed to illustrate the interconnections between citizens and the environment.

The City of Calgary along with the TD Common Ground Project will be holding a launch event this summer. At this event, the final playground design will be released. The City of Calgary has engaged a consulting company to design and build the natural playground. In order to have a minimal impact on the wetland and surrounding areas, the natural playground will be built offsite, and will be transported to Ralph Klein Regional Park and assembled in the Fall of 2017. Stay tuned for an update on the final construction later this year.

How did you get out and play?

 

To learn more about the Ralph Klein Park project, please visit:

TD Common Ground Project

 

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