Natural playspace at new Williams Lake daycare aims to stimulate children’s imagination and activity

Brothers Jericho and Shephard Murphy-Lulua strike a pose at a new natural playground being installed at daycare Little Mukluks. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
Little Moccasins Learning Centre program co-ordinator Sheena Rogers and parent representative Dannika Murphy (holding Karliah Muphy-Lulua) are excited with how the new playground is coming along at Little Mukluks daycare that has yet to open. (Rebecca Dyok photo)
A playground made of wood is being installed at a new daycare for children of Aboriginal ancestry in Williams Lake. (Rebecca Dyok photo)

Children’s imaginations will be able to run even more freely at a Williams Lake daycare through a newly-built natural playspace.

The log structures, including child-sized friendly tables and chairs as well as bridges and a long house by Pioneer Log Homes are being installed at the licensed daycare — Little Mukluks — at 254 First Avenue North.

Sheena Rogers, program co-ordinator of Little Moccasins Learning Centre will manage the new 24-space daycare for toddlers and children of Aboriginal ancestry ages three to five.

She noted Cariboo Friendship Society executive director Rosanna McGregor said numerous studies have indicated children are more active when playgrounds include natural elements.

Read More: Zoning approved for Cariboo Friendship Society daycare downtown

At Little Moccasins, another daycare operated by CFS, Rogers noticed children where not utilizing their play structure as often compared to children in their other program using their natural play space.

“On the first day that we put in our playground a little girl went out there and was sitting on a log and she was making arm movements,” she recalled. “We went over there and said ‘what’s going on’ and she said ‘I’m just out here fishing,’ so it just changes their whole ability to think. They’re more open-minded because those other ones are pretty directive — you go up the stairs, you go down the slide where with these they can make it whatever they want it to be.”

A 2014 study by the University of British Columbia found playgrounds that include natural elements such as sand, bricks and bamboo increase children’s activity and even reduce depression signs after two daycare centres in East Vancouver were transformed from a dull outdoor space into an imaginative playground.

Research by scholar network, PlayCore has also found that increased play value, higher levels of physical activity and improved environmental sustainability result from naturalized playgrounds.

Read More: Williams Lake daycare closes as a COVID-19 precaution

Construction on the daycare began last year by Sprucelee Construction, and Rogers said there are about 100 children already on the waiting list.

Due to COVID-19 an opening date is not known.

Little Mukluks is funded through Aboriginal Head Start of B.C.

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