Autumn’s Center Gets Grant For Playground

Spencer, Iowa — Seasons Center for Behavioral Health has received a grant to help fund a therapeutic playground at Autumn’s Center.
The $2000 grant is from the Renaissance Initiative, a program designed to annually support a variety of community projects in Spencer and to encourage innovation. Renaissance program officials say the fund is to help local groups access funding to help design, plan and implement innovative projects or community activities not possible within the parameters of the groups’ annual budgets. The funding for the program comes from Local Option Sales Tax receipts.

Seasons Center officials say the therapeutic playground will include specially-designed playground equipment for outdoor play therapy at Autumn’s Center, which will open in September. They say the playground will serve as an outdoor enhancement to a child’s therapy plan. The purpose of the therapeutic playground is to strengthen sensory, motor, cognitive, and social-emotional developmental skills in children.

Natalie Sandbulte, Director of Clinical Psychology at Seasons Center says that sometimes children have a difficult time processing their feelings and experiences in an office setting. She says that the therapeutic playground will allow children to move about if they need to, thereby facilitating the therapeutic process and the child’s ability to learn. She says the playground will be a wonderful opportunity for children to learn new skills in a natural and familiar environment.

The funding provided by the Renaissance Initiative will assist in building the playground project. The playground features seven distinct play areas, including: a large play area with various areas for climbing, sliding, running, and balancing; a swing set area with developmentally appropriate swings; a “twister” for vestibular input; a sensory play center wall to engage the senses with built-in tactile elements to encourage kids to explore various rough and smooth textures and shapes; a “flywheel spinner” where kids hang on and play together, providing social interaction; a “pulse tempo” which is a multi-sensory interactive musical playground game; and a “cozy dome” which offers kids a place to escape the hustle and bustle of a busy playground.

Autumn’s Center is expected to open on September 1, 2016 and the therapeutic playground will be completed, weather-permitting, by the spring of 2017.

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