A brief history:
The Oregon Nature Play Initiative or ONPLAY had its roots at a Natural Play Areas workshop in March of 2010 organized by the Oregon Recreation and Park Association (ORPA) and the Oregon Park and Recreation Department (OPRD). Anita Van Asperdt of LandCurrent was one of the presenters along with various other people some of whom later became key members of ONPLAY. Following the workshop presentation, OPRD staff asked Anita to help design criteria for the development of OPRD funded natural play areas as well as develop step-by-step implementations plans for local communities to develop natural play areas in Oregon. Anita developed draft outlines for these tasks and brought up the idea of an online map that would show all natural play areas completed in Oregon. When Michelle Mathis founded ONPLAY these initial ideas merged with the goals of ONPLAY. The idea behind ONPLAY, was to be an information sharing group. Founding key members included: Sandra Burtzos (Portlands Park and Recreation), Jerry Burgess and Bruce Barbarash (Tualatin Hills Park and Rec), Rod Wojtanik (Portland Metro), Mark Davison (OPRD), Steve Kirn (Timberform) and of course Michelle Mathis and Anita Van Asperdt. Goals shifted along the way as a national team of experts started working on guidelines for nature play under leadership of the National Wildlife Federation. Currently, the group has several new local government members and private landscape architecture practitioners, the group is now back at OPRD where Jamie English along with Vera Vollbrecht and Vicki Sink will lead to group.
We had our kick-off meeting for year three last Thursday in Salem and developed some exciting goals. One of our goals is to see if we can find researchers who can find out if children are actually more careful when playing in nature compared to when they play on a conventional playground. Another goal is to develop pointers for schools and agencies on how to start planning a nature play area.
Enough to do!