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Help Build a New Playground at the Greenburgh Nature Center

The Greenburgh Nature Center hosted the Tortoise and the Hare Walkathon to raise money for a new Nature’s Discovery Zone Playground.

The staff is hard at work fundraising for the new Nature’s Discovery Zone Playground. The playground, which is is Phase Two in the GNC’s Core Master Plan, will feature nature-themed recreational equipment and activity areas designed to engage children ages 2 to 12.

“There is a huge need for a playground in this community, and the value of free play outdoors can be easily overlooked,” said Courtney White, executive director at the GNC.

On Sunday, June 12, the Tortoise and the Hare Walkathon was one of the major ways GNC reached out to the community to help raise funds for their playground project efforts.

The community, which was was invited to create teams and get sponsors, was guided by a GNC naturalist on a walk through the woodland trails. For independent walkers, one short-loop trail was dedicated to younger children or inexperienced walkers, and a longer trail was for more experienced walkers.

Signs, like markers on a trail, were scribbled across with facts from the Children and Nature website and the benefits of the GNC playground. One sign read, “Feel safe and surrounded by friends in our playground.” Another read, “Walk our trails and climb about for great physical exercise.”

After the walk, participants were invited to the arts and crafts tent set up at the future building site for the playground. Under the tent, participants found a healthy food table sponsored by the Whole Foods Market, two arts and crafts stations and schematic plans for the playground.

At the tree cookie station, we wrote our names on circular sliced portions of a tree stem. Courtney White explained the tree cookies replaced the certificates that would have been awarded to participants.

The other arts and crafts station requested people to use various items like sticks and pine cones to create three dimensional prototypes of playground equipment. The GNC wanted to make sure the community’s wishes and ideas were incorporated into the playground project.

Another way the participants could contribute was to write down ideas and feedback on a note card, then pin the card onto the boards around the tent. Each board was designated to certain categories: “I want to play on the …” “What’s your favorite outdoor activity?” and “What ideas do you have?”

“It’s a playground for you, the community,”  White stressed, welcoming any thoughts on fundraising opportunities and additions to the playground.

Currently, the playground design included a variety of interactive features intended to mimic the natural environment such as an Animal Jump Pit, a Rope Spider Climb, an Eagle’s Nest to sit in and a Crawl-in Box Turtle. There will also be a nature’s exploring table as an activity.

“Research indicates that children are simply not playing like they used to with leisure and recreation time dominated by television, computers, electronic games and organized sports participation,” said Vicki Sherman, Director of Marketing at GNC. “While each of these has value in today’s culture, the balance of time outside in fresh air and free play is sadly missing.”

The Greenburgh Nature Center asks for Scarsdale to support the Nature’s Discovery Zone Playground project. It will cost $225,000 to break ground in 2012. So far, the GNC has successfully raised over $180,000. If you missed the walkathon or the fundraiser at California Pizza Kitchen, you can still make a tax-deductible gift.

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