Looking to offer an activity for adolescents, a Baraboo mother has proposed installing a teen playground at a city park.
Bekah Stelling approached the Parks Commission on Monday about building it at Ochsner Park. Playground equipment designed for teens is popping up at parks around the country.
“It can be a place for them to just get away and play, get away from screens,” Stelling said.
Commissioners endorsed the concept, but said making it a reality might depend on private fundraising.
“I think it’s a good idea,” said Commission President Roy Franzen. “We need things for our teens to go and enjoy.”
Stelling served on a committee that helped parks leaders map the system’s long-term future. She recently was approached by a donor who, spurred to action by a Florida high school shooting, offered a $5,000 gift for a teen playground if the city can match it.
She said a playground designed for teens would broaden the park system, as many amenities are geared toward small children. “Teenagers are often discouraged from public spaces,” Stelling said. “That can make them feel like they’re on the fringes of society.”
Other communities’ teen playgrounds feature climbing apparatuses, mechanical seesaws, gliders and other equipment.
Stelling proposed placing a teen playground at Ochsner Park because it’s close to the high school and middle school. It could be incorporated into school athletic programs, and also could be used by adults.
Individual components of such playgrounds cost anywhere from $100 to $4,000. Parks Director Mike Hardy said $10,000 would be enough to get started with a few components, with more added as fundraising permits.
Commissioner Dan Lewison suggested asking the school system for financial support. “I believe there’s got to be more collaboration — not duplicating efforts, spending money on the same thing twice — in a community our size,” he said.