By Jazmyn Bernard

A new nature playscape at the refuge


Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge's nature playscape

Did you know that getting kids outside for as little as 20 minutes a day can help reduce their stress as much as 28%? At Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, we know that nature is good for all of us. We're excited to share that you have a new place to get outside and get creative with your kids. And it's totally free! Take a moment to learn about the new nature playscape at The Refuge Gateway near Trenton, Michigan.

What exactly is a nature playscape? A nature playscape is a play area with natural themed elements that has been made mostly with natural material. Equipment in nature playscapes can be used in a variety of ways, allowing children to decide how they would like to interact with the playscape. Our nature playscape at the refuge has stepping stumps, boulders, natural wooden jungle gym, and tree log tunnels. All our nature playscape equipment is on a soft-landing surface to keep little explorers safe.

Why are nature playscapes important?

There has been a drastic decrease in the amount of time children are playing outside. This decrease in time spent outdoors has been associated with children spending more time on digital devices. The National Recreation and Park Association notes that American children on average spend less than 10 minutes outside a day. Some spend a little as four minutes! Meanwhile, studies are showing that children spend roughly 5 to 8 hours a day on digital devices, Collin O'Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation recently noted. The difference between the amount of time that children are in front of a screen and time they are outside is alarming.

Here at Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge, we recognize this problem and are finding solutions. To help you spend time outside, we built a nature playscape at the refuge. It's totally free and waiting for you to discover. Being outdoors is crucial for a child's development as there are many benefits that come with spending time outdoors. Some benefits include being at a healthier weight, having lower stress and anxiety, being happier, and so much more. Many doctors, like Pediatrician Robert Zarr, have begun to write nature-based prescriptions that encourage patients to spend a certain amount of time in nature a specific number of times a week based on the patient's health needs. Dr. Zarr does this in hopes that their patients will gain from the many benefits that nature has to offer and that their quality of life will improve.

A special note about safety

Though we encourage children to have fun and explore their refuge, we ask that guardians watch over adventurous children to prevent accidents as they play. You can visit your refuge any day of the week during daylight hours, to play at the playscape, hike, bird, fish, kayak or canoe, and more. Please check the refuge website for possible exceptions to this schedule during federal holidays.

Learn more about Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge by visiting our Facebook page or website and plan your trip today!


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