In Spring 2018, the City of Olathe, Kansas completed a small but unique playground renovation at Frisco Lake Park. Established in 1974, the 38-acre community park features a peaceful, natural setting and is located just south of downtown Olathe.

When the existing traditional post and platform playground needed replacement, Lisa Donnelly, the city’s landscape architect, worked on designing a thoughtful nature-based playground with excellent play value for children to complement and draw attention to the natural scenery. Research shows that nature-based play helps boost children’s mental and physical health, creativity and cooperation, and decreases anxiety and depression. By helping children connect with nature at the playground, the city of Olathe hopes to inspire the next generation with a genuine appreciation of the outdoors and encourage an understanding of the natural world.

To help children learn and grow through play, this playground features an accessible swing meant for several children at one time, a hillside slide with natural stone steps that were re-used from another park site, musical instruments, a natural sandpit, and nature-based rock and tree climbing features on an artificial turf safety surfacing that blends the playground into the surrounding environment.

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