If you’re a resident of the Circle C master-planned community in Southwest Austin, or if you’ve happened to drive through the neighborhood anytime recently, you’ve no doubt seen the newest jewel of the already impressive line-up of offerings at The Child Development Center.
Landscape architects refer to it as an outdoor learning environment. Others recognize it as a one-of-a kind playground. But to the most important audience of all, young learners, it’s simply called fun!
The staff and leadership at The Child Development Center, to coin a phrase, think that all work and no play makes for a very boring day. With that in mind, they constructed a 52,000-square-foot recreational space designed to enhance children’s academic success, social interactions and physical health.
Led by Jason Nobbe, a senior project manager at Stantec and parent of a son attending The Child Development Center, and constructed by Engen Contracting Inc., the outdoor learning environment boasts a number of creative features, including climbing beams, bank slides, wood stepping logs and natural log balance beams.
“The vision for this exciting initiative began five to six years ago, and then we began the actual design approximately a year and a half ago,” said Michelle Moran, now in her 16th year as Executive Director of The Child Development Center. “We decided to use our own funds to create this space because there was a real need and it aligned perfectly with our ongoing mission to support children’s development at every age.”
The use of natural materials in lieu of a manufactured playscape aims to inspire creativity and problem solving while strengthening a connection to the outdoors. A pirate ship, race track and garage are included to provide settings for imaginative exploration.
“Children today have many more sensory issues, and the new playground was built to engage the children in more creative and active ways,” said Moran. “Our goal is to encourage the children to take more risks and challenge them creatively and physically.”