Here’s something children and families plus school groups on field trips can look forward to enjoying: a new playground at LeFleur’s Bluff State Park.
Construction on the playground as well as an outdoor classroom and pavilion and a walking trail between the Mississippi Children’s Museum and the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science should begin this spring, said Sheila B. Grogan, president of the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation.
The foundation awarded a $3,855,000 grant to the Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks Foundation for the LeFleur’s Bluff State Park Education and Tourism Partnership, which is between the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks’ Mississippi Museum of Natural Science and the Children’s Museum.
The grant will fund the colorful, modern playground, outdoor classroom and pavilion and museum trail, and the state of Mississippi will provide infrastructure improvements.
“These significant improvements at LeFleur’s Bluff State Park are expected to attract many Mississippians and other visitors to visit the museums and enjoy healthy outdoor activities,” Grogan said.
The contemporary-style, 30,000-square-foot playground will be located between the Mississippi Children’s Museum and the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, just north of the former playground.
The playground will include 80 play activities, 73 of which will be inclusive for children with accessibility needs, and play areas based on the age of children. A shading system should make play more comfortable during Mississippi’s hot summers.
The outdoor classroom and pavilion, which will be located in an area west of the playground, will support multiple functions for both museums such as programming for school field trips and include tables and seating for up to 50 students. Plans call for an adjacent sloped lawn, which will allow the structure to be used as open-air amphitheater for large assemblies.
The eight-foot wide museum trail, which will be located east of the playground, will lead the way for guests to conveniently visit both museums and the playground. The trail will feature educational components from the Newbery Honor Award-winning children’s book, “Minn of the Mississippi.”
Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi led in building the wood-structure playground that stood for years at LeFleur’s Bluff State Park.
“Construction was completed with the support of Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi employees almost 20 years ago, and the playground has been visited and enjoyed by thousands of children and their families,” Grogan said.
The Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation provides targeted grants to fund initiatives and programs to improve the health and well-being of Mississippians.
The LeFleur’s Bluff State Park project aligns with the foundation’s strategic focus of providing sustainable health and well-being opportunities for Mississippians.
“Encouraging children, families and others to spend more time outside engaging in fun play activities, taking a walk or learning together in an outdoor classroom setting develops life-long positive attitudes about maintaining healthy lifestyles,” Grogan said.
The project at LeFleur’s Bluff State Park is the largest outdoor activity project the foundation has funded to date.