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New natural playground unveiled at Holiday Beach

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Children can now romp and explore in a play area surrounded by nature thanks to a $30,000 commitment from Enbridge Inc.

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The new “natural playground” officially opened Wednesday at Holiday Beach Conservation Area in Amherstburg, with a ceremony attended by students from Natural Pathways Forest and Nature School, in addition to local politicians and dignitaries.

“This natural playground is a great asset to Holiday Beach Conservation Area,” said Claire Wales, president of the Essex Region Conservation Foundation, after the unveiling of the park’s newest amenity.

“Children can engage in imaginative and active play at this unique nature-inspired playground.”

The play area reflects elements from nature such as logs, stumps and boulders rather than a traditional steel playground structure.

Milo Kissel, 2, from the Natural Pathways Forest and Nature School jumps down the stone steps of the new Enbridge Natural Playground at Holiday Beach Conservation Area in Amherstburg, on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021.
Milo Kissel, 2, from the Natural Pathways Forest and Nature School jumps down the stone steps of the new Enbridge Natural Playground at Holiday Beach Conservation Area in Amherstburg, on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

Wales said outdoor play in a natural setting has proven physical benefits for children, including developing gross motor skills, eye-hand co-ordination and helping to prevent obesity, while also allowing children to learn with all of their senses.

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Enbridge, an energy infrastructure company that owns and operates the Amherstburg Solar project, provided the funding for the project through its commit to leadership and corporate social responsibility.

In 2016, Enbridge was also instrumental in helping to create the Holiday Beach demonstration wetland, a controlled wetland habitat that improves water quality by reducing phosphorus, and an adjacent parking area.

“We are so very grateful to Enbridge for its ongoing partnership in support of environmental education and stewardship in the Windsor-Essex region,” Wales added.

Just over a year ago, the foundation unveiled an outdoor classroom at Holiday Beach, funded through donations from the University of Windsor Alumni Association.

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School children use the space during field trips to the conservation area.

Theodore Sekela, 4, from the Natural Pathways Forest and Nature School climbs up the stone wall of the new Enbridge Natural Playground at Holiday Beach Conservation Area in Amherstburg, on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021.
Theodore Sekela, 4, from the Natural Pathways Forest and Nature School climbs up the stone wall of the new Enbridge Natural Playground at Holiday Beach Conservation Area in Amherstburg, on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

The area used for the classroom has a small stage and benches made from trees toppled at the park during a storm.

Holiday Beach Conservation Area, located along the Lake Erie shoreline, welcomes over 30,000 visitors annually, including thousands of children visiting for day use and participating in outdoor education programs.

The park is open for day use from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily, from mid-April to Thanksgiving. Gates are closed to vehicular traffic over the winter months but the park is open to walk-ins.

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Charlotte Bedal, 6, from the Natural Pathways Forest and Nature School jumps off the new Enbridge Natural Playground at Holiday Beach Conservation Area in Amherstburg, on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021.
Charlotte Bedal, 6, from the Natural Pathways Forest and Nature School jumps off the new Enbridge Natural Playground at Holiday Beach Conservation Area in Amherstburg, on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021. Photo by Dax Melmer /Windsor Star

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