Mount St. Joseph University

New Natural Children’s Playground

Press Releases


File Under: children's center, natural playground

Little boy sitting under shelter.

On Friday, April 25th, the Children's Center had a dedication and blessing from Sister Nancy Bramlage of its new natural playground. The playground is made from things found in nature and has little usage of man-made materials or plastic. The Children's Center day also included live animals, a greenhouse made from recycled materials, a Kona Ice truck and a family picnic. 

Installing the playground was a collaboration of Janet Baltzersen, Children's Center Coordinator, student volunteers (SGA), building grounds worker Jamie Mahaney and professional landscape company, George Nieman's Landscaping and Design.

The project was made possible from a donation specifically for the Children's Center playground. The playground has been divided into zones with an open grassy area in the middle with a surrounding gravel path, a dry creek bed with a canoe in it and a little foot bridge to cross over. There is also perennial shade plants and a rain barrel to collect  water, a building area with natural materials, a natural hut made from branches, an in-ground sand play area, a music and movement area with musical instruments made from recycled materials, slides built into a grassy hill and a gardening area. A new cedar picket fence with an arbor was installed and wooden benches are nestled in for a place to relax and enjoy nature.

Benefits of a natural playground

  • Made to look like a natural environment so children can connect with nature
  • Facilitates better social and physical development
  • Improves fitness, motor-skills and well-being
  • Supports creativity and imaginative play
  • Inspires collaboration and reduces violence and bullying
  • Reduces stress
  • Creates feeling of empathy for nature
  • Eliminates fall zones and have much lower injury rates than standard playgrounds

The playground was created for everyone on campus to enjoy.  When the children aren't using it, students and Mount employees are welcome to enter and study, eat lunch, relax with friends or read.