Staunton: Parks & Rec snags state award for NatureRidge


Pictured left to right: Steve Taetzsch, Assistant Superintendent of Recreation; Claire Richardson, Nelson County Director of Parks and Recreation and former Staunton Parks and Recreation employee who developed NatureRidge; Ryan Flippo, Aquatics Director; Jon Snyder, Assistant Parks Superintendent; and Ken Jacobsen, Recreation Programmer.

Staunton Parks and Recreation has earned a state award from the Virginia Recreation and Park Society (VRPS) for NatureRidge, a natural playground in Montgomery Hall Park.

Representatives of Staunton Parks and Recreation received the award earlier this month in the category of “Best New Facility, Parks, Playground, Blueways, Greenways and Trail” at the VRPS’ 63rd annual conference in Glen Allen, Virginia.

This is the second award the department has received for the playground since it opened last year. In April, the department won the 2018 Governor’s Environmental Excellence Award for NatureRidge.

The natural playground is intended to help children connect with nature by playing with elements that come from the natural landscape, such as plants, trees, rocks, wood and other materials made of as few man-made components as possible. Children between the ages of two and 12 can explore environmental play elements and interact with them in creative, imaginative ways.

NatureRidge features a tunnel, amphitheater, gravel digging pit, dino dig sandbox, an elevated zig-zag balance beam, pirate ship, mud kitchen, an elevated sandbox, and natural seating. Many of the elements are accessible to children with disabilities.

Staunton’s natural playground also is a public-private partnership success story. At least 30 civic organizations, businesses and individuals have contributed thousands of dollars to the venture, covering all building costs. While there are several privately owned natural playgrounds in Virginia, NatureRidge is the first of its kind in the region to be owned by a municipality.

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