Cornerstone PlayLab marking 5th year

Cornerstone PlayLab marking 5th year

Image Credit: Mike Plant

The PlayLab has been serving the needs of Cornerstone Elementary students and the surrounding community since it opened on the Wooster school’s grounds in 2016. It’s been a destination spot for families during the evenings and weekends, in addition to daily serving hundreds of pre-k to fourth-grade Cornerstone students.

To celebrate its fifth anniversary, supporters of the PlayLab are planning a casual gathering on Sunday, Sept. 19 from 3-5 p.m. There will be a science station on pollinators, kids yoga and a nature-themed story time, as well as brief remarks at 4 p.m. Everyone is invited, and no RSVP is necessary.

Through careful management of the PlayLab fund at the Wayne County Community Foundation, as well as through volunteers who have contributed labor and materials, the space on the corner of North Grant Street and Park Avenue added several new items over the summer.

One is a gaga ball pit, a dodgeball-like game played in an octagonal enclosure. Funding provided the cost of the pit, made of composite lumber, which supporters assembled themselves just in time for the start of school.

Other enhancements include repairing and painting the picnic tables, which were formerly behind the hill and moved to the outdoor education area. Teachers requested the ability to have seating and a writing surface for a full class of students, and this will serve that need and enable classes to gather outdoors more frequently. The stone benches in the education area are in the process of being reconfigured so there will be multiple seating options to accommodate a variety of activities.

Lastly, an outdoor education expert from The Wilderness Center was hired to conduct a workshop for teachers on how to make use of this space to enrich student learning. The teachers reported getting a lot of useful information. They have requested additional sessions for students to help teach them how to care for and appreciate the natural elements of the PlayLab. These sessions are in the process of being scheduled, again with the help of The Wilderness Center.

The PlayLab did suffer loss with the passing of Dave Broehl in 2020. Broehl was a member of PlayLab’s executive committee and was an inspiration to many in the community. He joined the PlayLab project very early and taught the group to dream big, keep focused on its goals and celebrate its accomplishments.

As a nature-themed space, the PlayLab is always changing and evolving. Smaller projects are on the agenda for the future such as adding small trees and more perennials to the garden areas. One large-scale project is the purchase and installation of a new slide on Danny’s Hill to replace the cargo net. The hill was Broehl’s favorite spot on the PlayLab. He and wife Margo helped fund its construction, and it was dedicated to their late son Daniel. The hill continues to be very popular, and another slide should get a great deal of use.

The permanent fund at the WCCF makes the PlayLab possible, and donations may be sent to Cornerstone PlayLab Endowment Fund, c/o The Wayne County Community Foundation, 517 N. Market St., Wooster, OH 44691.