Fund My Neighbourhood: Tinyeri hopes for nature play space at Wickens Reserve, Murray Bridge

Many neighbourhood parks are wide open, grassy spaces, without many of the features that might draw children in and encourage outdoor play.

What if they were wilder and more overgrown, with logs to balance on and bugs to find – more like the environments in which previous generations grew up?

That is the idea which led staff at Tinyeri Children's Centre to apply for a Fund My Neighbourhood grant that would transform the park next door into a nature play space.

They are seeking $150,000 to turn Wickens Reserve, which is mostly hard earth and dry stubble at this time of year, into "a holistic nature space for all ages".

Aside from Murray Park on Thomas Street, Tinyeri's Skye Hayes said, there were not enough natural spaces in Murray Bridge for families or community gatherings.

"We're not looking at putting in slides, climbing frames or things like that; just more trees, paths, and toilets and things for people to use the space comfortably," she said.

"This is something we've talked about as an idea for a couple of years, and we see this as an opportunity to make the dream come true.

"We have our Bush Hoppers playgroup, we have bush kindy, so we feel like this is a natural extension of what we do at Tinyeri."

She said Wickens Park was an untapped resource, considering its proximity not just to the children's centre, but also Murray Bridge South Primary School and Lerwin Nursing Home.

The proposed nature space would also include areas where families or school groups could gather and where elderly residents could sit and contemplate.

Given the number of projects around the region – including more than a dozen in Murray Bridge – Ms Hayes said she was excited to see what the community might get out of the Fund My Neighbourhood program.

More good ideas

Nature play space, Collier Park, Palmer

A nature play space in Palmer will provide unique developmental, growth and tourist opportunities for the region. Being a small town with limited social outlets, the playspace will provide a platform for children and families to unite, in turn building a sense of community connectedness. The concept design was developed by the local community in response to recent data which showed an alarming one in three children in Mid Murray are developmentally vulnerable. Collier Park is a tourist attraction for campers and day-trippers and with the proposed wind farm in progress numbers will only increase.

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Swan Reach community playground

Establishing a nature playground at the school will strengthen our community ties and create an engaging space for children and adults to build relationships. It will inspire older and current generations to enjoy the great outdoors and be a healthy alternative in an increasingly technological world, by promoting safe risk taking and development of: fine and gross motor skills, mental health and resilience, critical thinking, imagination, problem solving, communication, emotional intelligence and academic performance. School grounds are regularly used by many community organisations who'll benefit from this initiative and it will increase positive school-community relationships.

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