For two retirees in Amherst, New Hampshire, helping kids engage in outdoor play
has become their new mission. Amherst Patch reports Rick Katzenberg and Rick Crocker have begun fundraising
efforts to help repair a boardwalk in the area that leads to The Great Meadow - a 73-acre nature preserve with a boardwalk. Coincidentally, the meadow lays right across the street from the Wilkins Elementary School.
Crocker reports the original boardwalk was created 20 years ago by the Amherst Conservation Commission, which owns the land, according to the news outlet. After it was completed, faculty from Wilkins would take the students across the boardwalk and into The Great Meadow to learn about the ecosystem native to the area.
The Great Meadow has both meadow and wetlands and in the past parts of it were regularly covered in hay by local residents. Town members would use their horses to spread the hay, as the land was so wet and soft that tractors couldn't be used.
Over the years, maintenance
on the boardwalk was halted and now the area is deemed unsafe for children to use, according to Amherst Patch. No classes have crossed it in over five years.
"It has been a while since the kids have been out here, and I always thought it was neat that they brought them out," Crocker told the publication. "The wilderness, the nature is phenomenal out here."
The duo is planning to try and raise $1,000 over the summer to tear up and replace parts of the boardwalk that are too worn down. The current decking will be replaced and new planks will be laid on the path as well as new foundations and supports.
Amherst Boy Scout Troop 613 has been helping to clear the land around the boardwalk in preparation of the new setup. Local contractor Jim Sickler has agreed to supply the machinery needed to complete the project
Crocker reports he already has plans to enhance the space further once this project is complete in order to give even more to the students nearby.
"It is really a great spot, it has always been a great spot," Crocker told the news outlet "You know the students are getting something they cannot get in the classroom."Healthy kids
who spend ample time in nature gain many health and emotional benefits. The National Wildlife Federation reports youngsters who use playground equipment
, ride bikes or go for walks in the woods tend to be less anxious and have ample levels of vitamin D. The latter helps to protect them from bone issues, heart disease and diabetes with age.