Construction is under way on a state-of-the-art playground at LeFleur’s Bluff State Park.
Equipment for the new playground, which is being built between the Mississippi Children’s Museum and the Mississippi Museum of Natural Science, is expected to be installed beginning in June, said Sheila B. Grogan, president of the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation.
The playground is targeted to open in late summer, she said.
The improvements to the park are funded by the Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Mississippi Foundation, which awarded a $3,855,000 grant to the Mississippi Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks Foundation for the LeFleur’s Bluff State Park Education and Tourism Partnership. The partnership includes the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries & Parks’ Mississippi Museum of Natural Science and the Children’s Museum.
The grant is funding not only the playground but also an outdoor classroom and pavilion and museum trail. The classroom and pavilion and walking trail are expected to be completed by early 2022.
The state of Mississippi is responsible for infrastructure improvements to the park.
“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 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 will 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.