YWCA Dayton’s 19-acre Huber Heights Campus is getting more active by the day, thanks to its newest amenity – a 34-by-23-foot outdoor playground and activity center.
“This playground is an amazing resource for YWCA in Huber Heights,” said Taylor Green, manager of youth/teen programming. “Playgrounds help children establish as sense of confidence and build self-esteem, and it is a free resource that the families we serve can utilize. I’m excited to see our families create memories here.”
YWCA Dayton provides the only domestic violence shelters in Montgomery and Preble counties, serving an average of 30 children in shelter every day. In addition, YW offers multiple youth leadership and prevention education programs, including Girls LEAD!, AMEND Together, and Shift, which reach an average of 1,000 middle and high school students every year.
Courtney Griffith, vice president of rural strategy and violence against women, said the new playground is full of potential: “It gives our team another resource to utilize in caring for women and families as they heal from trauma and abuse.”
Griffith also pointed to the documented benefits of nature and green spaces for abuse survivors. According to Natural Medicine Journal, traumatic events such as intimate-partner violence impact health in many ways and can have lifelong effects. Incorporating outdoor activities can improve survivors’ quality of life and reduce physical and social-emotional impacts.
“This is a safe, protected space that encourages people to both stop and breathe, and also run and move,” Griffith said. “We are so grateful to have it and incorporate it into our existing trauma-informed care practices.”
The playground is aimed at ages six months to 12 years, and was installed by Recreations Outlet, which forged ahead through pandemic-induced supply chain shortages and a sudden winter snow storm. It marks the second such structure at a YWCA Dayton facility, after its Van Vleck Park indoor playground was built in the Central Building in the early 1990s. Features include slides, climbers, play panels, updated swings – and a giant tic-tac-toe board. The new playground was funded primarily by grants from CareSource and the Mathile Family Foundation.
“CareSource and Mathile continue to invest in community well-being and the future of our children,” said Marshall Weil, vice president of development. “Having green space that is equipped for kids to be active and engaged and healthy is exactly what survivors and their families need. We are so appreciative of these gifts and their support.”
In addition to providing private, outdoor play space for YW clients, Weil noted that the new area presents additional volunteer opportunities, too.
“We will have opportunities to help host children’s activities and volunteer outdoors beyond landscaping help,” he explained. “In the coming year, we will be launching the public phase of our Huber Heights Campus capital campaign to raise funds and support as we continue operationalizing this new location. It will allow donors to leave an indelible mark on the legacy of YWCA Dayton, so this playground is just the beginning. We’re excited to see what’s to come.”