Lamplighter was approached to be the pilot project for the first licensed child care centre in Lennox and Addington County to have a Naturalized Playground.    A seminar was held by the Limestone District School Board (LDSB) on Naturalized Playgrounds in 2014 in which the Director attended and accepted the project! 

As studies show, children appear to be having more screen time with various devices and losing the benefits of playing outdoors among natural elements.    Exploring amongst natural elements such as the beach and the forest has shown great strides in children’s overall health and development.

The process for Lamplighter would see three phases with a Committee consisting of Members from LDSB, a contractor, and a landscaper.    To assist in the project as well, staff and students from Grade 11/12 from Ernestown Secondary School in Odessa were involved to train from the ICE TOOL KIT (Innovative, Creativity and Entrepreneurship).   This Kit was developed by the Ministry of Education’s Student Success & Learning Branch, French-Language Education Policy and Programs Branch and the Rotman School of Management from the University of Toronto to assist students looking into setting up their own businesses and becoming Entrepreneurs. 

Phase One was from the teachings and trainings of the Kit, to input on what Lamplighter’s staff, children and parents wanted to see in the new yards.    Phase Two consisted of designing and measuring and redesigning and re-measuring in conjunction with the students of Ernestown and the Certified Playground Inspector and regulations for Daycares.    Phase Three had the students being trained in chainsaw skills and landscape techniques.

With our big move from 186 East St to 465 Advance Ave in November 2015, various fundraising activities continued, consultations with various agencies for funding and design ideas were accepted.   Upon final Ministry approvals, along with our Playground Inspector, our Naturalized Playground – Stage One – ground was broken on Sept 27/16 and completed Nov 29/16 with all main play areas installed.   See ‘Easle Paper Draft 2’ of the approved design.”  

Stage 2 – Playground Design Adjustment #4, Oct/16

In the Spring of 2017, Stage Two saw the Willow and grape vine plantings, the Duralawn matting for erosion prevention and bike track for Inf/Tod yards along with the Hiding Huts and Lattice Tunnel for the Pre yard.  

We incorporated a dry river bed (rock), sand area with log, rock and stump border, Pergola for shade and outdoor group times along with vine and willow tunnels.    Wooden hiding huts, log and stump balancing beams with mulch fall zones and hill slides with mulch exit areas for our Preschool and Infant/Toddler yards.   Two young maples were planted as well.

Using the environment as a third teacher helps children develop a sense of well-being and belonging.  It encourages expression through socialization with peers and adults and children are engaged and focused, when they play and explore among natural elements.

Lamplighter would like to thank the following contributors to this effort!  The BRUINSMA/KIMMETT FAMILY for donating the landscape fabric (from Strathcona Paper Comapany) and the red cedar logs for our sand boarder and balancing!   A huge thank you to the ANNA & EDWARD CHURCHILL FOUNDATION at Scotia Wealth Management Kingston for the generous funding of this project in both 2015 and 2017!  

Also we would like to thank the PRINCE EDWARD LENNOX AND ADDINGTON SOCIAL SERVICES for funds received as well towards this project!   Funds and fundraising efforts helped support the costs of the equipment and products and for our Landscaper and Contractor.    Many thanks to ROOTS TO ROOF and RORDAN BUILDING SOLUTIONS!