Legacy Parks Foundation opens kids play area at Baker Creek Preserve

Legacy Parks Foundation opened a new kids adventure play area today at Baker Creek Preserve in the heart of Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness. The Siddiqi Charitable Foundation, Earthadelic, and REI contributed to the project, helping Legacy Parks transform an unused space into an attractive, useful area that encourages youth to explore outdoor recreation.

Thanks to grants from the Siddiqi Charitable Foundation and REI, plus labor and design work donated by Earthadelic, the play area includes natural, interactive, and bike features that accommodate kids of all ages. Among these fun features are a giant hanging bamboo chime for kids to run through and make music, log rounds for balancing, a miniature climbing wall, slides, and a climbing play net.

Kids can also utilize a dedicated grassy area meant for free play and running, and several barrels of play balls will be available, introducing the “balls in parks” concept. The idea is that simply providing balls in parks gets kids to play more and be more active. The South Haven Homeowners Association has adopted this idea and will keep a constant supply of play balls at the kids adventure play area.

Beautiful landscaping and natural seating areas made of logs and stone make a great place for parents to watch kids and for families to enjoy together. In addition, grants to Legacy Parks and the Appalachian Mountain Bike Club from REI were combined to fund a kids pump track and kids trail. This is the third year REI has provided grants to the two organizations for project in Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness. The combination of all of the features of the play area will allow children to explore and engage with age-appropriate challenges, while developing their motor skills and increasing their physical activity.

“We are really grateful for the groups that contributed to making this play area another beautiful and fun part of the Urban Wilderness, Carol Evans, executive director of Legacy Parks Foundation said. “We hope it encourages families with young children to get outside and try new activities, helping them develop happy, healthy lifestyles.”

The mini bicycle pump track was built to introduce children – and their families – to the sport of mountain biking. This will be the only such trail and track in the region and will be located in the new preserve designed to advance mountain bikers through a progression of trails and skills. The addition of a kids loop trail within a few hundreds yards of a world-class double-black diamond downhill trail with seven additional trails of varying degrees of difficulty in between makes Baker Creek a unique place to learn outdoor recreation skills from the very beginning.

“This new play space–especially the kids’ bike track–is a great springboard to get our youth exploring the outdoors,” said City of Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero. “We’re fortunate in Knoxville to have an asset like the Urban Wilderness with so many partners helping us to improve it.”

Families will come and discover the play area, trails, and mini-track, see the activity of hikers and bikers all around them, and be motivated to take one more step into the woods. Research shows that enhancing access to places where people can be physically active is an effective way to help people incorporate healthier behaviors into their daily lives.

The addition of this play area not only provides a great place for youth and families to play, but the demonstrated success of its construction also helped Legacy Parks secure the Trinity Health Initiative Grant for an additional adventure park. The adventure park was recently announced by Legacy Parks and will be located just across the street, adjacent to South Doyle Middle School.

Because both the play area and adventure park will be connected to Baker Creek Preserve, students and community members can easily bike or walk to the two play spaces on the nearly 8 miles of connected trail within Baker Creek Preserve. Baker Creek is also connected to the rest of Knoxville’s Urban Wilderness, giving people the option to continue their adventure play onto the 42 additional trails throughout South Knoxville.

The group of organizations that helped Legacy Parks make this adventure play area possible each played a very important role and modeled a great private-nonprofit partnership. The Siddiqi Charitable Foundation works to promote the health and wellness of the residents of east Tennessee and Appalachia. Earthadelic supported this mission with its full-service landscape and hardscape design along with its commitment to environmental responsibility. REI is a national outdoor gear outfitter, which provides grants to nonprofits that care for the outdoor places its customers love. Because of this partnership, the people of Knoxville will enjoy lasting outdoor recreation opportunities at the adventure play area at Baker Creek Preserve.