Hosted by AmericanTrails.org
An innovative community uses play to get kids in nature and active on trails. The city of Germantown TN incorporated PlayCore’s Pathways for Play design principles, and used a series of park grants to help design and fund the project.
Request the Pathways for Play Guidebook from PlayCore and the Natural Learning Initiative
Learn more on the GameTime Play Trails page
Download the Pathways for Play Flyer (pdf 3.3 mb)
Nestled in a peaceful, family filled neighborhood in Germantown, Tennessee, Dogwood Park is a 6 acre nature-rich space with shady bowers, peaceful paths, an attractive creek bed, and the sound of bird song in the air.
It is also the home of a brand new Pathways for Play National Demonstration Site, the Delta at Dogwood Park. Located at 8970 Ashmere Road, the park is located directly behind Dogwood Elementary, which will use the trail, and the complementary new playful path and playground, as an education space for students.
This project exemplifies the qualities of a National Demonstration Site because of the collaborative approach to unique, best practice design principles that utilize play to get kids and families physically active and back in nature.
Germantown is an example of the power of partnerships with clearly defined goals for planning, execution, and sustainability. They worked closely with PlayCore, and their GameTime brand to create an exciting plan to restore and enhance the playground site at Dogwood Park. The city incorporated PlayCore’s Pathways for Play program best practice design principles, and a series of park grants to help design and fund the project.
The city received a state Department of Environment and Conservation grant of $150,000, and a $50,000 grant from Boundless Playground Inc. for poured-in-place surfacing material. The Germantown Woman's Club also awarded the city a $3,700 challenge grant for a woodland study area.
The city used Pathways For Play to plan the location of each play pocket, so that they created an exciting adventure trail to engage families, promote environmental education and physical activity, and attract children to the park.
Germantown Parks and Recreation Director Pam Beasley said. "We're using last year’s PlayCore nature project as a model to rethink play spaces and bring nature in and around the play structures.” She added, “The new Delta playground is in a very peaceful and beautiful setting."
The five nature themed play pockets along the path leading to the playground feature playful interactive exhibits that include a butterfly metamorphosis, spider habitat, leaves area, a pond life pocket which incorporates a frog, turtle and cattail spinner, and a bird pocket, which features a rocking egg to simulate ‘hatching,” and a huge bird nest that families can climb in, with a working telescope nearby to birdwatch, encouraging imaginative play and environmental education.
Each play pocket incorporates access to downloadable activity guides including informative facts, activities, stories, and crafts for children to extend the trail experience as an ongoing learning event. As with all Play Trails, each play pocket also features on site signage that informs participants about the role in nature that each themed area represents.
To further increase play value, additional native plants were added to the landscape, and picnic tables and benches were placed under a grove of trees near the playground as a comfortable gathering place.
An all out community effort was held to install equipment, plant native flora, and beautify the area. To encourage volunteerism, Dogwood Elementary principal Susan Pittman made an offer to her 587 students that they couldn’t refuse. "Whichever class gets the most parents to volunteer will get to be the first to play on the new playground!"
Judging from the happy children and teachers recently observed on the trail, many classrooms, families, and citizens will reap the benefits of this natural, playful space for many years to come!
About Pathways for Play: PlayCore, together with the Natural Learning Institute, College of Design, NC State University and American Trails to develop a best practice program guide to promote children and families being active on pathways systems. To learn more about the program, becoming a National Demonstration Site; or to request a copy of the guidebook, go to www.playcore.com/pathwaysforplay.
About Play Trails: GameTime has partnered with American Trails to offer an affinity program to assist trail owners in adding playful interactive exhibits along their trail. To learn about the program, visit www.gametime.com/americantrails.
Join the Movement!
PlayCore continues to seek National Demonstration Sites to lead the way in designing innovative play environments that integrate play along pathway networks. For more information about Pathways for Play, becoming a National Demonstration Site, or receiving a copy of the Pathways for Play best practice guidebook, contact PlayCore at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.playcore.com.
For more resources and programs on Kids and Trails, visit www.AmericanTrails.org/resources/kids.
Learn more on the GameTime Play Trails page