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Nature play

9:26 AM  Apr 17th, 2018
by Rose Rucoba ’19

As their senior project, the 2018 River Stewards cohort revealed a nature play area and mural at Dayton’s Cleveland Park on April 7.

Tree stumps, recycled tires and large sticks arranged in the shape of a butterfly make up the area. Children are encouraged to hop on the tree stumps, build with the sticks and interact with nature in any way they want within the play area.

Most of the materials were donated by various organizations around Dayton, including the Marianist Environmental Education Center and Grismer Tire and Auto Service Center.

Also included in the senior project is a mural painted in the picnic area, which depicts a forest and river on the floor and treetop canopy on the ceiling.

The park’s renovation is only one example of the River Stewards’ creative and innovative capabilities.

During the past 10 years, the River Stewards’ senior projects have been used to improve the Dayton community through such undertakings as a bridge documentation project, a rain catchment system at Mission of Mary Farm, and the planting of native trees with Adventure Central, located in Wesleyan MetroPark in Dayton.

This year’s cohort of 19 student members have been working together since sophomore year and started their senior project in fall 2016. They were inspired by their cohort’s three values of enhancement of a natural area, family and conservation.

“Over the past two and a half years, our senior cohort has been planning, developing and implementing a series of projects and events in Cleveland Park,” said Julia Hall, one of the cohort members.

She added, “The selection of this particular location was the result of several factors, including the presence of a forested area, the proximity to Cleveland Elementary School, and the way in which it was situated in the middle of the Linden Heights Neighborhood. These characteristics made the park stand out as a wonderful community asset.”

The cohort said it hopes the new play area will encourage outdoor activity.

“What I want to see is families enjoying a safe outdoor space,” said Meg Maloney, another member of the cohort. “We just want to get people passionate about nature. It starts with kids.”

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