OWOSSO TWP. — Today’s children may be wired in, but they are disconnected from nature — so says author Richard Louv, who coined the term Nature Deficit Disorder to describe the malady.
Not to worry. The staff at DeVries Nature Conservancy, 2635 N. M-52, is busy developing a “cure” — the DeVries Nature Playscape, a safe, natural space aimed at giving kids the freedom to explore, learn and create in nature, all within eyesight of their parents.
The playscape, to be built next spring on a quarter-acre of land on conservancy property, won’t look like any other play area in Shiawassee County.
“My goal is that everything will be edible,” Tracy McMullen, DeVries environmental education coordinator, said Tuesday.
The playscape will include a sunflower maze; herb gardens with edible fragrant plants; fruit trees and bushes; a dirt pit for digging and mud-playing; a shallow “river” and “pond” area featuring a disappearing waterfall; large wooden checkerboard; climbing tree; fort-building materials; and many other non-traditional elements.
Not a bounce house, swingset or seesaw in sight.
“It’s kids enjoying the natural elements, not man-made things,” said DeVries Executive Director Kenneth Algozin.
Not only is playing in nature fun, it’s also good for children, McMullen said, pointing to studies that have shown it enhances motor functions and cognitive abilities, teaches problem-solving skills, can lead to shorter healing times and helps relieve the symptoms of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
To figure out what features would most appeal…
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