St. Pete boasts 'first-of-its-kind' natural playground

Return to nature with 'natural playgrounds'
Posted at 4:59 PM, Jul 05, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-05 18:15:24-04

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — It used to be easy for kids to explore nature but with more development happening, fewer families have that freedom.

"I love this," said Abby Smith of the new playground. "Anything that gets them out of the house away from screens."

That's why this mom of two drove her family from Lakeland to St. Petersburg to visit the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve. Specifically its newest addition.

"It's rustic, there's not a lot of metal. There's just wood and natural elements," she said.

The natural playground includes a few features that set it apart from modern playgrounds including limited fencing, plastic and metal. The playground is built almost entirely out of an African wood. It was built with the intent to blend into the preserve bringing green spaces into urban areas. The impact two-fold.

"They [kids] can grow up and be more conscientious and help preserve nature," said Taylor Graham, a supervisor at the preserve.

Parents we spoke with love the concept. They want to see more playgrounds like this across the Bay but they do have one concern before bringing their kids. Just a couple of feet away from the playground is an open stream.

"My kids can swim but my niece is two-years-old and I've very nervous about the water," said Smith.

Graham says she's not concerned the stream will be a safety hazard. She says there are benches built along the coast of the stream where parents should be supervising their children. She also points to the low slope, leading into the stream, which she says make it harder for a child to accidentally fall in.

Despite her own concerns, Smith says she'll return with her children for one reason.

"Keeping it natural, letting your kids run wild and be feral," she said.

This playground is also an experiment. If successful you'll soon see one like it at the new St. Pete Pier.