Dedication Planned for Willow Creek Natural Playground

The dedication for Willow Creek Park will be held on Tuesday, June 20, at 6 p.m., at the park location.
The project manager for the park is Nastausha Hefner, of Stonewall Jackson Memorial Hospital. There will be light refreshments and gift bags for children attending the event.
Willow Creek is referred to as a natural playground/outdoor classroom. Most of the equipment at a playground like Polk Creek Community Park is commercially bought and made of plastic and metal.
A natural playground uses natural elements, such as the gigantic tree stumps donated by Marilyn Workman, as part of the fun.
Several of the stump tops have been painted to serve as tic-tac-toe games. Eventually, Hefner will install a sliding board into the hillside. Currently, a bridge is being built across the creek.
“We went to one of the conferences several years ago and learned about natural playgrounds. We thought it would be perfect solution for the property, which was given to us along Willow Creek. At one time there were homes there, which were flooded several times. So the County received a grant to tear down the houses and the City received the property,”
explained Hefner.
Last year, work started with the installation of a stone path, perennial plants and a small parking area.
Recently, a small swing set, teeter-totter and musical instruments were added. According to city officials, the park is growing in popularity as well as equipment.
“We are so happy to have this playground grow in use. It is different then most playgrounds but provides children with the opportunity to be more creative by using nature,” SJMH Marketing Director and Weston Mayor Julia Spelsberg said.
“When the hospital created a community assessment in 2013, our residents noted that obesity was at the top of the list of their concerns. So we decided that a smart way to attack the problem was to create playgrounds within the city,” she continued.
Willow Creek will join the other two parks created in the past several years. The first park maintained by Joe Jarrell is the Charles Lively Pocket Park on the corner of Center Avenue and Fourth Street in Weston; the second is the Polk Creek Community Park by the old Polk Creek School, created by John and Connie Riffle.
The Willow Creek Natural Playground is the third play area. The next project is the Urban Orchard planted in April close to SJMH.

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