New community playground opens to the public
The children of Paulding have a new playground behind Little Sprouts Nursery, which mimics the natural world. Last week, community members, teachers and children from Paulding’s Head Start program came together for a ribbon cutting and dedication.
The new playground includes features like a tricycle track, xylophone, creek bed and climbing area. There are also many plants that children can water.
“Kids love it. They all love it,” said Amber Gochenour, a teacher at Little Sprouts. “The ribbon cutting sets the tone for the community to finally say that this is not just our space, but a place where all the children in the community can come to play and learn.
“We waited a long time for our children to come out, but it was worth it.”
The playground is the brainchild of the Northwest Ohio Community Action Commission (NOCAC) and its Head Start program, Nature Explore, a company that designs outdoor classrooms and nature-rich learning environments, and Solid Ground Landscaping at Paulding. From start to finish, the project took over a year and the $100,000 cost was paid for with ARPA funds awarded to NOCAC’s Head Start program.
Amy Zipfel, County Manager of NOCAC Head Start, explained, “Our former manager decided it would be nice to try and create a whole new playground that looks like nature, something kids can’t. experience daily. base.”
Head Start contacted Nature Explore, and the organization came to Paulding to examine the space. From there, Nature Explore helped map the areas based on Head Start’s wishes.
From there they approached Solid Ground with a limited design. Brian Shuherk of Solid Ground described what happened next. “We sat for quite a while in the office going through the expectations, what the playground design company came up with, how everything would be laid out. I took that and created my own scaled design so we knew what would go where and what wouldn’t.
Church of the Nazarene and Little Sprouts leadership also met with NOCAC. They discussed the space and what would work for all ages that would be served by the playground. Ensuring it was inclusive and manageable for all ages and abilities was paramount in the design process.
Once winter arrived, Solid Ground started working from within. They started with the tricycle track, dug the pit for the climbing area before starting to plant bushes and trees.
“We had to do everything backwards because once you set it up, you couldn’t go back to that area with equipment,” Shuherk said. “It all started with pretty much all four sides of a chain link fence, some mulch and some playground equipment here.”
The last elements to be built were the creek bed, the stage and the bridge. Shuherk built them in his shop and then brought them to the site.
“We hope other people will benefit as well, not just the kids at Little Sprouts or Head Start,” Zipfel said.
Adam Papin is the editor of The Paulding County Progress and can be reached at [email protected]