A Safe and Natural Place to Play
Children whose lives may be in disarray have a safe and natural place to play in a new playground built with
the help of the Niagara Community Foundation.
Bethlehem Housing and Support Services built the $120,000 natural playground with a significant amount
of volunteer help, fundraising, and a $10,000 contribution from the Niagara Community Foundation’s social
The playground is open to children who are living in Bethlehem’s supportive housing complex and it’s also
open to children who attend the EarlyON learning centre housed at the site.
The playground is unique because of the all-natural playscapes it offers to encourage imagination and
environmental appreciation. There are no brightly coloured steel supports or molded plastic panels – instead
the playground is made of tree stumps, rocks, fallen logs, and sand pits and offers children and their parents
opportunities for imagination and risk-taking. There’s a cabinet full of digging and mixing tools, stumps to
climb on and crawl through, and a tap that makes small amounts of water available for mudpies. It was built
in a small space, but preserved the maple tree that had graced the area.
Parents whose children have used the space say the combination of safety and creativity makes kids feel
comfortable and able to learn. “The environment gave my children a chance to play safely and we learned
new things together,” said one mother. “The sand area was our favourite, as well as my daughters [being
able] to ride bikes together.”