Natural Playscape is good news for kids

Project benefited greatly from extremely broad community support

A ribbon cutting last week celebrated the completion of a much-anticipated Natural Playscape at Kennedy Park. It is an exciting new way for kids to connect with nature.

According to Matt Cosgrove, Webster County Conservation director, the park uses natural materials and appeals to the senses to encourage a love of the outdoors.

The playscape is located west of the Heun Shelter where the road bends south, just north of the existing, traditional playground. It’s part of a larger plan for the area that juts out into the lake, which will be called Discovery Point.

The Natural Playscape was funded by private sources and is an undertaking of the Friends of Webster County Conservation, a nonprofit group that helps with projects and provides volunteers for conservation programs and activities. The group raised more than $50,000 over about a 2 1/2 year period.

This new feature at John F. Kennedy Memorial Park benefited from broad community support:

“Keep the Smile Alive” Katie Lunn Foundation provided $10,000 for the tree house, which is named “Katie’s Tree House.” It helps preserve the memory of Katie Lunn, who died in an accident in 2010.

• When the Sertoma Sundowners club dissolved it made a $20,000 donation for the playscape.

• The Catherine Vincent Deardorf Charitable Foundation committed $17,500 to the project.

• Additional donations have been made through private donors and memorials. All donors will be recognized on the donor tree in the playscape.

There was widespread collaboration to turn the Natural Playscape from an intriguing concept into a tangible reality. The support of the Friends of Webster County Conservation was critical. So to was the backing from the Webster County Conservation Board and Webster County Board of Supervisors. Andy Kavanaugh, an industrial arts instructor at Fort Dodge Senior High and FDSH students created metal work. Cargill — showing its well-known commitment to being a good corporate citizen –provided a dozen volunteers for a work day. Construction was completed by Conservation Department staff.

All in all, this superb new addition to Kennedy Park shows how much can be accomplished when community members work in harmony to achieve a worthy goal.

The Messenger applauds this effort and congratulates everyone involved on a job well done.