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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Outdoor natural play area planned for Westlawn Elementary School

Westlawn Elementary School
Westlawn Elementary School is developing plans for an “outdoor discovery area” where children can play and climb on natural features like boulders, logs, and tree stumps. The area would have some raised garden beds for children to learn about growing plants and healthy food choices.

The play area would also be available for the community during non-school hours, and the idea was well received when it was introduced at a meeting for residents of the Westlawn neighborhood earlier this month. It would be located on school grounds near Oak Ridge Road. Westlawn is in the Falls Church area of Mason District.

Children spend too much inside watching TV, says a school staff member, so the discovery area would provide an alternative experience to encourage them to enjoy the outdoors and learn about nature. Hidden Oaks Nature Center in Annandale has a similar all-natural play area called Nature Playce.

Westlawn Elementary received a $2,500 grant from Dominion Power but will have come up with a lot more money to complete the project. The school would like to have about six giant boulders, and a two-ton rock costs about $550. The park also needs to be fenced in. The total cost is estimated to be at least $10,000.

The plan still needs to be approved by Fairfax County Public Schools, but the school hopes parents and community volunteers can start working on the play area this spring. If things go according to schedule, it could be completed by 2015.

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