Natural Playscape

Mayor Ed Engler, Executive Director Jude Hamel, Director of Marketing Kimberly Drouin, Peter Benson NH Charitable Foundation and Education Director Sarah Dunham-Miliotis are joined by "ribbon cutter" Brandon Lurvey and friends for the official ribbon cutting of the Natural Playscape at Prescott Farm Environmental Education Center on Saturday morning. (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Mayor Ed Engler, Executive Director Jude Hamel, Director of Marketing Kimberly Drouin, Peter Benson NH Charitable Foundation and Education Director Sarah Dunham-Miliotis are joined by “ribbon cutter” Brandon Lurvey and friends for the official ribbon cutting of the Natural Playscape at Prescott Farm Environmental Education Center on Saturday morning. (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

We couldn’t have asked for a better turnout and more beautiful weather for our Natural Playscape Grand Opening held on Saturday, May 14. Thank you to everyone who came and played. We enjoyed seeing the Playscape being used by so many and everyone having such a great time!

Our Center is open from 9-4pm daily and our Natural Playscape and trails will be open daily from dawn to dusk at no cost. Please feel free to come and PLAY at your own leisure and share photos and videos of your visit to our social media (Facebook, Twitter & Instagram)! ~ Thank you and enjoy our Natural Playscape to the fullest!

Check out the video the Dingman Family created that day. They were the winners of our Natural Playscape Grand Opening photo/video contest. Enjoy and we hope it inspires you to come and PLAY!

Thank you Dingman Family for capturing and sharing with us!

Read more about our Natural Playscape and how it began….

Young meistro John Lyman plays a tune in the Music Area of Prescott Farm's Natural Playscape during their grand opening on Saturday morning. (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Young meistro John Lyman plays a tune in the Music Area of Prescott Farm’s Natural Playscape during their grand opening on Saturday morning. (Karen Bobotas/for the Laconia Daily Sun)

Prescott Farm strongly believes in the importance of getting kids outside for their healthy development and well-being.  Consider this:

Fact #1: Childhood play time in the outdoors has been in steady decline since the 1950’s. Not only are today’s kids over-scheduled, but they are increasingly disconnected from the natural world spending as much as 8 hours PER DAY inside in front of some sort of screen.  This was new reality was coined “nature deficit disorder” by author Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods and may be linked to higher rates of ADHD, obesity, depression, speech delays, aggressive behaviors.

Fact #2: Outdoor free play isn’t just fun—it is vital to children’s health & well-being! Kids that spend more time outside tend to have less stress, less anxiety and depression, lower rates of obesity, fewer symptoms of ADHD, and better immune system functioning, as well as better social behaviors, increased ability to learn and concentrate, a better sense of self and independence, more creativity, better self-discipline, better problem solving skills, more capacity for emotional and intellectual development, and a tendency to grow into more ecologically-minded adults.

Many families do spend time outside together in parks and playgrounds and we think that is a good thing. However, are conventional playgrounds really facilitating the kind of free play that is important? Unfortunately, in a quest to make play as safe as possible many modern playgrounds have become quite sterile with few opportunities for creative play. However, there is a new movement towards nature-based playgrounds or “natural playscapes” at schools, daycares, city parks, churches, and nature centers.

  • Most kids surveyed preferred natural playscapes over conventional playground equipment
  • Natural playscapes are less costly over time
  • Natural playscapes are better for the environment
  • Natural playscapes fully support healthy development for kids
  • Guess what?  Research shows FEWER injuries in natural playscapes than on conventional playgrounds!playscape1

Thanks to a generous grant from the NH Charitable Foundation, Prescott Farm was able to bring in designer Rusty Keeler of Planet Earth Playscapes (www.earthplay.net) to put together a Master Plan design for a Natural Playscape at Prescott Farm. Keeler has worked with organizations and communities around the world to design spaces that bring nature to children in fun ways with hills to climb, dirt to dig, plants to explore, and water to splash, among many other things.We want Prescott Farm to be a place that families come to explore and play in the natural world together.  Without further ado, there is our design (click each picture to view larger version)!

Master Plan 1Master_Plan2

 

 

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Thank you to NH Charitable Foundation and the volunteers that made this project a reality! Lakes Region Rotary, Lakes Region Youth Leadership, Gilford Youth Center, Laconia Fire Departement, Fusion, BJs of Tilton, Easter Seals of NH, Appalachian Mountain Teen Project, Bob Harrington and Ed Darling