Map of new playground design at James City County library


The second phase of the wildly popular Kiwanis Kids Idea Studio at James City County Library, created through a partnership between the Friends of WRL and the Colonial Capital, Toano, and Williamsburg Kiwanis Clubs, will bring this innovative play and learning area to the outdoors in a way that stimulates children’s imagination, cognitive skills, and development in a natural environment.

Share the best parts of your childhood with the next generation.

What is a natural playground? If you have childhood memories of climbing trees, digging in sand, building forts, and letting your imagination run free in the great outdoors, then you’ll recognize all the elements you loved in this new outdoor space. Designed by nationally acclaimed designer Ron King of the Natural Playgrounds Company, this outdoor space will give children of all ages the opportunity to get all the health and developmental benefits* of natural play right in the backyard of your public library.

Join us and help make this project come to life. Please consider making a gift today to give children and their families the opportunity to experience the benefits and joy of this special new public playground.

Find out below how to contribute or learn more about naming opportunities for some of the wonderful playground elements.

*Read more below on the importance of playing in nature.

The impacts of parks and green environments on human health extend beyond social and psychological health outcomes to include physical health outcomes.Dr. Frances Ming Kuo 


Today’s children (and their adults) have fewer opportunities to connect with the natural environment than ever before. Most are in childcare or school for extended periods of time, often eight or more hours daily, which makes getting outside to play vital to improving their physical and emotional well-being.

Richard Louv coined the term “nature-deficit disorder” to describe this modern-day issue in his book, The Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder (Louv, 2008). Louv’s book shares research that shows how direct exposure to nature is essential for healthy childhood development and how modern life inhibits this for children.

According to Dr. Frances Ming Kuo, director of the multidisciplinary Landscape and Human Health Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, regular access to nature improves psychological and social functioning. She calls this connection “Vitamin G” (G for “green”), and argues it is a necessary ingredient for “a healthier, kinder, smarter, more effective, more resilient, more vital populace” (Kuo, 2010).

Outdoor spaces like natural playgrounds can provide children with much-needed “Vitamin G.” Spending time playing outdoors provides benefits like supporting creativity and problem-solving, enhancing cognitive abilities, improving academic performance, reducing Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) symptoms, increasing physical activity, reducing stress, and more (Seltenrich, 2015).

Learn more in the links below:

Read “Parks and Other Green Environments: Essential Components of a Healthy Human Habitat” by Dr. Frances Ming Kuo.

Read “Just What the Doctor Ordered: Using Parks to Improve Children’s Health” by Nate Seltenrich.

Explore information on the NC State University’s Natural Learning Initiative (NLI) website. The NLI provides community-based, equity-driven design thinking to creating healthy natural play and learning environments.

For more information about this project, contact Dr. Benjamin Goldberg at or call 757.741.3390.