Benefits of the Nature-Based Outdoor Play Area: Research demonstrates that children engage more with natural materials versus man-made ones, and that children, especially those who are at-risk, experience a deficit of natural outdoor experiences in their lives. The nature-based play area facilitates better social and physical development in the children; improves fitness and motor skills; supports creativity and imaginative play; reduces stress; and creates a feeling of empathy for nature.

“We chose Urban Oasis for this project because the company clearly understands the importance of nature-based play and is committed to giving all children access. Of course, we are very grateful to Qualistar Colorado for providing the funding for this important project which goes a long way in supporting Aspen Center’s STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) education focus, giving children even more opportunities to learn through play,” Swedhin said.
Features of New Play Area: Urban Oasis has created a natural play area which is made of beetle kill wood. Additional props were added to enhance imaginative, creative and musical play by the children. For example, a sound board was created, consisting of tubes and paddles. Finally, a shade sail was installed to protect children from the elements when necessary and provide much-needed shade during the warmer months.

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“Exposing children – particularly those from lower income households – to more play outside, more interaction with the natural world, and more ways to creatively and imaginatively interact with their environment, especially the natural environment is a critical piece of early childhood education,” explained Linda Swedhin, director of Aspen Center for Child Development.