The Wilderness Center (TWC) was Awarded Visit Canton Recovery and Destination Development Grant For Updating their Nature Playscape.
Stark County, Ohio – The Wilderness Center (TWC) was awarded a Visit Canton Recovery and Destination Development Grant for the redesign and update to their
Visit Canton, the Stark County Convention & Visitors’ Bureau (CVB), has awarded $296,368 in Recovery and Destination Development Grants, and we are honored to be one of the recipients. The CVB made grant dollars available to fund projects in Stark County that are in concert with Visit Canton’s mission to attract visitors and increase visitor spending. Grantees were encouraged to partner in strategic ways between multiple organizations, businesses, and communities. Applicants could request from $10,000 to $50,000, with committed matching funds required, to support projects that commence in 2022. The complete Recovery and Destination Development Grant criteria and application process are available to view here.
Wilderness Center Updating Nature Playscape
With the funds that TWC will receive from the Recovery and Destination Development Grant awards, they will be using the dollars to:
- Update the Nature Playscape
- Engineer Scott Ervin, who was a key designer of the original playscape, and Herb Broda, outdoor education expert, have worked closely to design new features including a water feature which will be used to educate children on how water flows through the environment, upgraded safety features, and equipment to develop large motor skills like balance beams and climbing equipment.
- Make Improvements To the Trails for Greater Access
A “playscape” is a natural landscape that supports children’s self-directed play and
offers natural and created features designed to encourage children to explore and learn
from the natural world while in a safe environment. Making natural environments
available to children allows them the time and opportunity to explore, ask questions, and
develop their innate sense of wonder. The original Nature Playscape at TWC was
created over 10 years ago.
- “The Nature Playscape has been a wonderful feature at TWC, but we want to update and redesign it with new features based on the best available research on the science of outdoor play,” says Executive Director, Jeanne Gural. It is the intent of TWC to create a new playscape that will include play activities accessible to all children and their families, regardless of their physical capabilities or limitations.
- In addition, a significant improvement to the project will be to upgrade the parking and trail leading up to the Nature Playscape. “A focal reason for the proposed enhancements is to make the Nature Playscape more accessible so children (and adults) can more easily enjoy the spaces,” says Ervin, “Three handicapped parking spaces are proposed with a new ADA compliant asphalt path connecting the parking lot
to the playscape.”
- This update will benefit the parents and other caregivers in attendance, by providing
access to natural areas, which may be limited for residents of suburban or urban areas,
and provide physiological, social, and mental benefits. A recent study found that adults
that utilize parks self-rated their health as being higher than those who did not utilize
Nearby businesses, Amish Door Village and Lehman’s provided letters of support for the project. “Our staff at the Amish Door is frequently asked ‘What is there to do in the area?’” says Katy Gill, Marketing Coordinator for Amish Door Village. “There are many times that we have families or groups with us that want to try something new in our area, but they have someone with them that is physically limited. With the upgrade of the Nature Playscape, The Wilderness Center will be a great outdoor option for us to share with families and groups of all shapes and sizes, limitations or no limitations.” Construction of the project is set to begin in mid-February 2022. The Wilderness Center is still seeking partners to fully fund the project. In addition to donations of supplies, TWC is seeking financial support, part of which will be set aside in an account for upkeep, maintenance, and continued renovation of the Nature Playscape. Gural stresses, “Science has shown and is continuing to find how beneficial outdoor play and exposure to nature is for children. The Wilderness Center is proud to be a resource for that in our community and is dedicated to continuing that well into the future.” To find out more information about our project and follow along with the progress, please visit wildernesscenter.org.
About The Wilderness Center:
The Wilderness Center is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to connect our community to conservation through education. The Wilderness Center currently protects 3,380 acres of agricultural land, forest, meadow, wetland and prairie in seven counties, including 500 acres of wetland and 13 miles of freshwater streams. It’s main site features 12 miles of hiking trails, an interpretive building with opportunities for education and outdoor activities for families.
They are located at: 9877 Alabama Ave. SW, Wilmot, OH 44689
About Visit Canton:
The Stark County Convention & Visitors’’ Bureau, d.b.a. Visit Canton, is funded by a lodging tax administered through the Stark County Commissioners. The organization’s mission is to promote travel to Stark County. Visit Canton facilitates operations that support a travel and tourism industry in Stark County.