Editor’s note: Posts from the Community is the place for community announcements and event postings. If you have a community-oriented event you feel our readers would be interested in, please submit here.
A fanciful garden where toddlers, older adults and people with disabilities can play and learn together. That dream will come true with the grand opening of an Intergenerational Play Garden at 10 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 26, at St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care-Bucyrus Campus, 2450 W. North Ave.
The 11,660-square-foot playscape includes four whimsical structures—large enough to accommodate an adult and two children or multiple youngsters. Each uniquely designed, there’s a fairy house, a teapot house, a castle and a dinosaur cave. A railed sidewalk connects the structures built with wide, step-free doorways—making the play garden wheelchair accessible.
Bordering the play garden are 27 cedar raised bed gardens, each measuring 4 x 8 feet. The gardens, built by St. Ann Center staff and volunteers, are accessed by wheelchair-friendly paths—making it easy for children and adults to plant, water, weed and harvest their bounty. The homegrown produce, including fruits, vegetables and herbs, will be used in St. Ann Center’s meal program and will also be distributed to the Center’s clients and staff.
The grand opening celebration will begin with the untying of an African kente cloth bow. Remarks will be made by Sr. Edna Lonergan, St. Ann Center president. Environmental educator Matt Flower of the Urban Ecology Center will lead an interactive presentation on nature. The public is invited for guided tours of the play garden and raised beds. Refreshments will be served.
“The Intergenerational Play Garden is not a place where adults sit on a bench and watch the children play,” said Lonergan, founder of St. Ann Center, an all-ages day care that serves infants, preschoolers, after-schoolers, summer camp kids, as well as older adults and people with disabilities. “Here, the generations will have adventures together, with opportunities for fun and learning.”
Each structure is equipped with books and toys that teach lessons related to its theme. The teapot house teaches social skills, the castle focuses on leadership, the fairy house spotlights creativity and the dinosaur cave inspires tenacity and holding onto dreams. “These are values and abilities every child needs,” Lonergan said. “The adults can help them attain them.”
The play garden is landscaped with flower beds and a shady spot where children and adults can read to one another or just relax. The Urban Ecology Center is partnering with St. Ann Center to design a curriculum of environmental and nature-based activities children and adults will enjoy together. The generations will also get together regularly to tend the raised bed gardens.
“Fruits and vegetables are such an important part of a healthy diet—but they can also be expensive,” Lonergan said. “We want to make sure our children and adult clients have meals filled with nutritious produce. So, we decided to grow it ourselves.”
This $350,000 Intergenerational Play Garden was funded by the Burke Foundation. Initially, the play garden will be used by clients in St. Ann Center’s adult and child day care programs, with plans to open it to the public in the future. The $19,000 raised bed garden project was funded by the We Energies Foundation, Northwestern Mutual, the Greendale Woman’s Club, and the Sisters of St. Francis Sacred Heart Charitable Fund.