Let­ting kids lead the way

New Oak­dene Park play­ground hailed as ‘one of a kind’

Valley Journal Advertiser - - COMMUNITY - BY ASHLEY THOMP­SON KINGSCOUNTYNEWS.CA Ashley.Thomp­son@kingscountynews.ca

Ever heard of the Oak­dene Ser­pent?

The crea­ture can be spot­ted at the new Oak­dene Park Ad­ven­ture Play­ground Cobe­quid Con­sult­ing de­signed while keep­ing in­put from Kings County Academy stu­dents in mind.

“The Oak­dene Park Ad­ven­ture Play- ground is one of a kind in At­lantic Canada, and we are so pleased to be a part of it. Cre­at­ing a space for chil­dren to ex­plore and be cre­ative is para­mount to this park,” said Gar­net McLaugh­lin, owner of Cobe­quid Con­sult­ing, in a press re­lease cir­cu­lated by the Town of Kentville.

“In­cor­po­rat­ing the Oak­dene Ser­pent into the de­sign has al­lowed our imag­i­na­tions to run wild.”

Smil­ing chil­dren hap­pily put the play­ground to the test dur­ing the grand open­ing June 23, a cel­e­bra­tion held as part of the an­nual Oak­dene Days hosted by the Town of Kentville and Ro­tary Club of Kentville.

Rachel Bed­ing­field, Kentville’s di­rec­tor of parks and re­cre­ation, said KCA stu­dents specif­i­cally re­quested a zi­pline, cave and nat­u­ral el­e­ments in­volv­ing sand, grass and wa­ter.

“We’re still fig­ur­ing things out and build­ing on through­out the years but it’s mas­sively suc­cess­ful and we’re re­ally happy with it,” she said dur­ing an in­ter­view at the wellat­tended event.

“This all falls un­der our Kentville Plays ini­tia­tive, which is re­ally about re­mind­ing peo­ple that you don’t need a pro­gram, you don’t need a struc­tured event to play – you can just play. As adults, some­times we just need to let kids lead the way.”

In the spirit of en­cour­ag­ing kids to use their imag­i­na­tions, Town of Kentville fa­cil­i­ties man­ager Kevin Ben­nett came up with the idea of adding a mud kitchen with a work­ing sink to the mix.

“I wasn’t re­ally sure it was go­ing to be that pop­u­lar. I didn’t re­ally know how it was go­ing to be re­ceived but it seems to be be­tween the zi­pline and the mud kitchen is where the kids seem to grav­i­tate to,” said Ben­nett.

The Oak­dene up­grades were sup­ported by Kentville’s town coun­cil in favour of im­prov­ing upon a multi-sea­sonal re­cre­ation site in a neigh­bour­hood that lacked a play­ground un­til now. The property is also home to soc­cer fields, a sled­ding hill and pond.

The Oak­dene Day lineup in­cluded the of­fi­cial play­ground open­ing, live mu­sic by The Hilites and Mark Clarke, a bar­be­cue, a soap slide – and what­ever the kids dreamt up with the en­vi­ron­ment and play ob­jects at their dis­posal.

The play­ground is not the only ex­cit­ing de­vel­op­ment at Oak­dene. The list of im­prove­ments at the site also in­cluded the ad­di­tion of an out­door stage for live en­ter­tain­ment, a new out­door bas­ket­ball court and more park­ing spa­ces.

“It’s be­come quite a fun project,” said Ben­nett, who noted that some local day­cares are al­ready us­ing the play­ground and nu­mer­ous area res­i­dents have ex­pressed their grat­i­tude for the new fa­cil­ity.

“They’re thank­ful that they have a place to go, and even some of the se­niors are com­ing over and sit­ting.”

ASHLEY THOMP­SON

Lo­gan Hir­tle of Cold­brook ended his Oak­dene Days soap slide trip with a splash. Hunter Greene of Kentville proved to be a nat­u­ral on the zi­pline.

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