Sensory playground offers new opportunity for emotional development

MADISON, Wis. — A playground seems like the perfect place for kids to get their energy out. One local early childhood center wanted to take it a step further by combining playtime with sensory development.

The Playing Field has been providing care to children from a variety of different economic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds since 2015. At a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday, they revealed their new playground, a dream three years in the making.

In 2018, Executive Director Abbi Kruse made it a goal to build a special type of playground, designed to help children learn to self-regulate and process trauma.

“Some of our young children come to us with sensory issues, some of them are on the autism spectrum, some come with early adversity or trauma they’ve experienced,” Kruse said. “Those emotions, those feelings impact them in every cell of their bodies”

The plans became a reality in 2019, when the Attic Angels, a local nonprofit, announced that they’d be giving The Playing Field a new playground in celebration of their 130th anniversary. Over the course of a year, the Angels were able to raise $75,000 in donations to build the play area.

Kruse said she felt inspired by the opening on Saturday.

“It’s been such a long dream for us, and to actually see it is really overwhelming,” Kruse said.

Now, The Playing Field will pivot toward its newest project: A 1,500 square foot space on Madison’s Eastside owned by the Madison Plumber’s Union. Once completed, the space will be used for job training, provided in part by the Union. The project also includes providing stable housing for those in need.