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Neighbourhood Nature Play

A Kitchener-based initiative that encouraged children and their families to play and learn in nature.

Children climbing trees at Neighbourhood Nature Play in Kitchener, Ontario.

The Neighbourhood Nature Play project was a Kitchener-based initiative focused on getting children and their families to play and learn in nature. In partnership with the City of Kitchener, and through collaboration with the community, Evergreen helped  transform two local parks by designing a series of natural features embedded in the landscape.  

At the parks, Evergreen offered free, year-round programming for all. The combination of design elements and program staff helped foster a safe place for immersive, explorative and risky play. In these spaces, children have the freedom to be the architects of their environment, to invent and build using their own creativity and skills, all while developing an appreciation for the natural world. This innovative project successfully championed a collaborative, community-led participatory design process to transform parks into vibrant local hubs. The child friendly participatory design process used the core elements of play animators, loose parts, child-led and risky play.  

Throughout the project, Evergreen also led training opportunities for City of Kitchener camp staff and program staff, building local capacity and skills to continue this work. 

At Gzowski Parks and Kingsdale Park, children and families gathered to play, connect and share in experiences. Watch these videos below to learn more. 

Impacts

Kitchener Nature Play ran from 2017 – 2020. During this time, Evergreen and the City of Kitchener: 

  • Engaged 5,146 children and 2,205 caregivers. 
  • Trained 153 staff & volunteers. 
  • Reached 630 campers. 
  • Trained 15 Evergreen staff. 

For More Information

This program continues to be run by the City of Kitchener. For more information, visit: https://www.kitchener.ca/en/city-services/kitchener-natural-areas-program.aspx 

Resources