New Child Development Center playground in works

The children have their shovels and other gardening tools, ready to plant their crops of flowers and vegetables.

A new type of playground will be implemented in OCCC’s Child Development Center and Lab School at the Family and Community Education Center. It is located at 6500 S. Land Ave., about one mile north of the main campus.

Following a trend across the U.S., the center is designing a space where children can play in a more natural setting, trying to move away from the uniform plastic playgrounds.

Susan Tabor, Social Sciences dean, believes many benefits come from these natural playscapes where children can build things with loose parts, have sand and mud to play in, and have a place for gardening.

“When children have an opportunity to master and solve problems, they generally have a better skill-set for adulthood,” Tabor said.

Modern plastic playgrounds do not offer loose parts to be maneuvered, restricting children from building and creating. Children develop motor and creative skills by being able to move things around to solve problems, Tabor said.

The facility is working toward developing a natural area for children to have group time for art, communication and motor skill development.

Their current project is building a garden as an extension of the playground.

Constance Pidgeon, a teacher at the center, said they are in the developmental process of their project, but they are breaking ground to start their garden plots. They are starting to organize and set aside times to implement their plans.

“This month there are two work days we are going to prepare soil to have our garden areas,” Pidgeon said.

Pidgeon said they are collaborating with other teachers and parents as they continue the planning for their playground.

There are hopes that the garden will become a community garden that can help reach out to the neighborhood, Pidgeon said.

“I think the benefits will be for everyone,” Pidgeon said. “People have interest in gardening and nature, and especially children’s interest in nature.”

Pidgeon and the CDCLS facility look for community support during this project.

For more information, please Pidgeon at

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