Build a Natural Playground to enhance outdoor learning and to preserve natural play at Kessel Kids!

Dreamer: Rachel Vsetecka

Business: Kessel Kids Childcare and Learning Center

Location: Cresco, IA

Industry Contest: Northeast Iowa Business Network 2013

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Kessel Kids Childcare and Learning Center strives to improve the lives of children in Howard County by providing a safe and nurturing childcare environment that encompasses learning and fosters positive relationships. The intent of the Natural Playground project is to instill nature as part of a child’s daily learning experiences. With the increases in technology, children no longer play outside as much as they once had, shifting their focus to the indoors. We want to restore the focus on physical activity and nature-based learning. Our dream is to support children with appreciating and understanding the world around them.

The Natural Playground project is being lead under the direction of a committee of passionate community members; parents, teachers, board members, staff, and business owners, who discernibly see the benefit that this space will provide for our children. The Natural Playground will be constructed in open outdoor space adjacent to our center and will be approximately 164’ x 90’ (15,000 sq. ft). This space will be enclosed and the interior area will be built with many natural and recycled materials. Our drafted concept plan includes trees, plants, a trike/walking trail; music and art centers; structures for balancing, climbing and playing; materials for building; slides built into the landscape and will create a dynamic classroom environment for learning and playing while being surrounded by nature. Funding from Iowa’s Dream Big, Grow Here competition would be utilized to make these ideas reality. In addition to providing children with the opportunity to explore and connect with their environment, this project will allow us to utilize additional outdoor space that is needed to accommodate for our growing enrollment. Community workdays, maintenance and care planning are also outlined in our short- and long-term plan to sustain our project.

We challenge you to reminisce about your childhood. Envision the sense of wonder and exploration you may have felt in your own back yard. We want the children of our community to grow-up appreciating their surroundings, to participate in spontaneous outdoor play and to appreciate the simplicity yet complexity of the natural materials making up our environment.
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