Community spirit boosted by professionally designed and constructed safe play space
LONDONDERRY – To the average onlooker, perhaps, it is nothing more than just another pocket of forest in rural Nova Scotia.
Ahh, but this is Londonderry and looking through the mind’s eye of a couple of energetic young mothers, one can see through the forest and past the bushes to the trees and landscape within that are just waiting to be converted into a nature wonderland.
“It’s a play forest,” says an excited Amanda Langille as she and co-hort Robbin Spencer escort a visitor on a tour through paths tramped into the leafy floor by the exploring feet of playing youngsters.
Situated between the community hall and local ball field, the site has long been used as a play area for children amusing themselves during adult ball tournaments.
“It’s going to be all cleared out. The entrance is actually over there,” Langille says as she begins the short tour.
“So we’re just enhancing our natural area with playground components,” she says, of the project that has been three years in the making. “And we’re doing some different things like incorporating some musical instruments into the space.”
That portion of the concept will include bongos, whale and thunder drums and a hangingAmadinda (an xylophone that hangs from a treebranch).
“So this is kind of our musical hill because we thought the acoustic properties off this back hill would be really nice and it would go through the whole play court,” Spencer adds.
Other components of the project will include a ropes course, a hill slide, a climbing wall and a “whimsy” play area.
“And, of course, a parent’s corner with some bistro tables,” Langille says, laughing infectiously.
“This is where there is going to be a log play house from Kenomee (Log) Homes,” she says, continuing with the tour. “And this is our whimsy play area. There is some willow in here, which will be weaved together. This is just great for the kids, they are going to love it.”
Although Langille and Spencer have been spearheading the project, the play forest is an effort that has full community support, they say, one that was borne out of a desire to both provide a professionally designed and constructed safe play space while also serving to help build on communal spirit.
“We both have young kids and the closest playground is Great Village. But we’re not really supposed to use it because it’s a school playground. We just thought that Londonderry needed a playground,” Langille says.
“We don’t have a central gathering place so we don’t have a lot of opportunities to meet other families.”
But the idea was to also create something original.
“We thought instead of going with a more traditional urban playground structure that a natural play space would be more appropriate for the feel of our community,” she says.
The overall cost of the project is expected to be about $52,000, of which $23,588 is being provided by the County of Colchester; $14,000 from provincial funding; $3,000 from the Londonderry Community Council (generated through local fundraising efforts) and approximately $12,000 from in-kind contributions from local contractors, businesses and individuals.
A community “build” is being planned for late September and the pair is hoping the play forest will be ready for use in early October.
And, unlike some other playground projects that attempt to create a natural area in an urban setting, the women say their research has yet to uncover anything that matches the Londonderry concept.
“It’s a one of a kind, first in the country and that’s why we think we’re going to get some tourists come through,” Langille says. “We’re going to really promote it.”