By Desiree Williams
IU Health North and IU Health Saxony Hospitals collaborated to bring the annual day of service event to Cool Creek Park Sept. 15. IU Health began the day of service initiative nine years ago with the goal of sharing the hospital’s mission with the community.
“One of the primary goals that we want to do to improve the health status of Indiana is to encourage physical activity, especially in a family-oriented environment like Hamilton County Parks,” said Michael Harlow, president of IU Health Tipton and Saxony hospitals.
Harlow said 150 associates from various IU Health locations volunteered during the event. They worked with Hamilton County Parks this year to create a new nature play area with a wheelchair-accessible trail. The development was previously a wooded area but has been turned into a playground made of all natural materials, or elements.
“We’re calling these ‘elements’ because it’s comprised of natural resources that have been repurposed as a function of normal, ongoing land maintenance,” said Don Nichols, resource development specialist for Hamilton County Parks. “We didn’t have to cut down any trees for this. We didn’t harm any plants or anything.”
The nature play area will not include the typical climbing set, swings or slide. Instead, it will include a balance beam obstacle course made of logs and boulders. There will also be a pyramid to climb, a tractor to drive and a table and chairs, all of which are made from logs.
“We are creating something that gets kids comfortable playing in nature and just being creative,” said Allen Patterson, Hamilton County director of parks and recreation.
In addition, volunteers also created a natural barrier around the new play area to keep children out of the street. Carl Zenor, manager of imaging services at IU Health North, gathered materials for the barrier and helped build a retaining wall.
“It’s awesome being able to help out and give back to the community,” Zenor said. “They give so much to us at the hospital.”