June 15, 2009
On May 12, children at the YMCA High Park Child Care Centre, Toronto, enjoyed their play time in a new natural playground, created by LO member Adam Bienenstock.

One of the biggest attractions of the playground is that it lets kids connect with the environment, while providing a safe play space that uses natural elements, such as mature trees, fallen logs, flowers, hills, valleys and boulders.

“Traditional playgrounds have one focus while natural playgrounds promote open-ended play and support the full development of the child,” said Bienenstock, founder and principal designer of Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds of Dundas.

Over the past year, the YMCA has opened seven natural playgrounds across the GTA, and expects to open more this year. “Natural playgrounds fit perfectly with the YMCA’s Playing to Learn curriculum,” said Jillian Sewell, YMCA Child Care Development Manager.
The cost of building a natural playground is comparable to that of a traditional play structure, however, the maintenance fees are significantly lower. A natural playground’s lifespan is up to 30 years.

Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds are built by Gardens for Living. The playgrounds include natural features and elements such as rolling green landscapes, mature trees, slides embedded in hills, amphitheatres, garden beds, fallen logs, tree stumps for seating and tables. “Natural playgrounds fit perfectly with the YMCA’s Playing to Learn curriculum because they allow us to give children the opportunity to learn through creative, interactive, sensory play,” says Sewell.

Bienenstock was a speaker at Canada Blooms in March, where one of his gardens was on display.

Caption: Adam Bienenstock with a couple of young friends trying out the new playground at the YMCA