Forest Park Forever and the City of St. Louis Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry opened the new Anne O'C. Albrecht Nature Playscape in Forest Park to the public on Wednesday, June 2, 2021. Visitors marveled at signs made by students for the play areas. In the 17 acres is a one-of-a-kind experimental play scape with natural landscapes that include native and diverse species. The project was funded by donors to the nonprofit conservancy Forest Park Forever, and completed in partnership with the City of St. Louis and students from around St. Louis.
Did you know that Sacred Heart Villa students had a hand in the design of the signs for the playscape? The Villa was one of four schools selected, and the only preschool, to participate in designing signs for the new area. Over the 2019-2020 school year, our Nursery 2, PreK 1 & 2 classes and Kindergarten toured natural areas in Forest Park near the actual site of the new playscape to experience playing and exploring in a natural setting. In the next days, the classes drew pictures of their most memorable parts of their field trip to Forest Park. They focused on how they could share their experience with other children and make suggestions of ways to explore the space. The design company for the project, Interboro Partners, selected drawings from PreK 2 and Kindergarten. Then they worked directly with these students to help create signs that would be placed in the Nature Playscape. The children and teachers carefully selected the pictures they felt were their best, cut these out and laid them out on backgrounds they also created. It was like putting a puzzle together except we did not know what the final picture would come out to look like!
Now these proud Villa alumni and other visitors to the playscape can view The Villa student's four signs. The signs include the Bottomland Forest area and the Wetlands. The fourth sign is a friendly reminder to "bee" careful when you play in nature and "bee" aware of bees, yellow jackets and other insects. We heard from one of our alumni this week who went to explore the new Anne O'C. Albrecht Nature Playscape and seek out the sign they helped design! We are so proud of our children for their hard work on this project and their patience in waiting so long to see the final product! We are also grateful to Forest Park Forever for inviting our school to be a part of this historic event for our city.