The Eccles Early Childhood Development Lab has a new area to help teach young children about the natural world.
After being discussed and developed over the past seven years, the child care center recently installed a “nature playground” at its facility on the Taylorsville Redwood Campus.
“Research shows that children are not experiencing nature as much as we did as children,” says Eccles Lab School manager Sharlie Barber. “They’ve even coined the phrase ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’ — which is not a real disorder, but a coined phrase that gets the point across. All of us from [the lab] are trying to figure out how to bring nature back to children, and this is our way of doing it.”
The new addition has various features that bring a different aspect of nature back into a child’s life, as well as other areas that combine nature and fun to give children the best possible experience.
“Because of the amount of children we have, we rotate each week what playground the children will play on,” Barber says. “I had one three-year-old almost cry when he found out it wasn’t his turn to play on the nature playground, that’s how much these kids love it.”
The playground features tunnels, water pathways, a dome, a sandbox surrounded by plants and flowers, and areas where children can plant things and watch them grow.
Kylie Smith, a local mom who attended the grand opening of the nature playground, is excited for this new opportunity.
“I think it is important to let children grow up and be surrounded by nature,” she says. “My kids are only four and ten months old now, but when they are old enough, I will definitely send them to the [Eccles Lab] to be a part of this wonderful experience.”
Salt Lake Community College staff are also pleased with the new playground.
“I am a parent of two kids who go to the [Eccles Lab] and I also [worked on] the project from its initial conception,” says Family & Human Studies administrative assistant Brandi Benson. “My kids love this playground. It is so much bigger and better than what I have seen in blueprints. This playground [will] inspire kids to experience nature and be adventurous.”
Photos by Duyen Nguyen