Monday, September 22, 2014

Get moving to city’s parks

3/31/2014

Beautiful spring weather is calling people outside, but what will Ottawans do when they get there? Because of the hard work and perseverance of 50 volunteers each work day, 10 Ottawa city employees and others, Forest Park now is home to Adventureland — a sizable playground complete with heaps of ways to frolic and play.

The two-year effort to replace antiquated, decades-old timber equipment that no longer met safety standards was the culmination of efforts by the Play Task Force, headed by Fonda Rose, an Ottawa Middle School physical education teacher and parent of twins. (Take a look at a time lapse of construction efforts on day one at http://vimeo.com/89918431) The playground, which is twice the size of its predecessor, isn’t just for kids though. The gigantic spider web-like climbing apparatus is robust enough to handle adults too, making it the perfect place for kids to play alongside their parents, grandparents and older siblings.

Beautiful spring weather is calling people outside, but what will Ottawans do when they get there? Because of the hard work and perseverance of 50 volunteers each work day, 10 Ottawa city employees and others, Forest Park now is home to Adventureland — a sizable playground complete with heaps of ways to frolic and play.

The two-year effort to replace antiquated, decades-old timber equipment that no longer met safety standards was the culmination of efforts by the Play Task Force, headed by Fonda Rose, an Ottawa Middle School physical education teacher and parent of twins. (Take a look at a time lapse of construction efforts on day one at http://vimeo.com/89918431) The playground, which is twice the size of its predecessor, isn’t just for kids though. The gigantic spider web-like climbing apparatus is robust enough to handle adults too, making it the perfect place for kids to play alongside their parents, grandparents and older siblings.

“Play matters,” Rose said, “and nothing can bring a family together like play!”

Hours of fun await at the playground, with plenty of activity challenges for participants. A lateral tilt-a-wheel-like play area is large enough to accommodate lots of people and moves with an intensity mirrored by the energy applied by its riders. The same can be said for many of the rope disc-like platforms. Kids — and adults — can hone their balancing skills while also cultivating social skills on the playground.

The $150,000 Adventureland, which has a kid-size rock climbing wall, also includes more traditional slides and swings but most items are handicapped-accessible, so children of all physical capabilities can find something to their liking. The playground was paid for with grants, donations from individuals and businesses and lots of sweat equity from the public. This project had a palpable community spirit with young and old (and all ages in-between) helping to bring the project to life. It is gratifying to see Ottawa’s next group of young leaders stepping up to make their own dreams for what would make the community better happen.

Besides improving safety standards, the new playground is part of the city’s effort to boost quality of life for Ottawa residents and its visitors, as well as reducing childhood obesity, Sara Caylor, Ottawa mayor, said Saturday afternoon at the playground’s official ribbon cutting. Increasing the number of opportunities for kids’ physical activity won’t stop with this effort. Caylor said the group wants to tackle installation of neighborhood “pocket parks” and play pods along trails within the city too. Of course, that is part of a five-year plan and will be dependent on future fund-raising efforts.

Improving the lives of Ottawa residents and making the city one of the best places to live through its “Let’s Move” program and other health initiatives are tangible evidence of the city’s outreach efforts that should give back to residents for decades to come. Now it is time for everyone to get outside and move on the new playground and whatever other destinations facilitate having a healthier community.

Save the date: Saturday, May 17 is Ottawa’s “Play Day in the Park” at City Park, Fifth and Main streets.

Thanks to all who moved in one manner or another to make this playful adventure happen.

 

— Jeanny Sharp,

editor and publisher

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