"Boundless Playground" By NOLA Community on April 02, 2013 at 4:30 PM, updated April 02, 2013 at 5:05 PM
The boundless Kids Unlimited Playground and the outdoor, bayou-side amphitheater at Camp Salmen Nature Park in Slidell were both officially opened April 2 by Parish President Pat Brister and several children from throughout the region. The Kids Unlimited playground was the vision of Danell Gerchow, Kelly Rodriguez and Yvette Catoire who, in 2009, recognized that eastern St. Tammany Parish needed somewhere where both special needs and able-bodied children could play.
The 5,334-square-foot playground was a project of the Leadership Northshore class of 2010. The approximate $240,000 price tag was kept low due to the generous donations of more than 40 organizations that committed materials for the playground, volunteered time for the build, or made monetary donations. More than 185 volunteers from 15 organizations, including a group of Habitat for Humanity volunteers from Canada, assembled the playground over the course of one week.
“I want to congratulate Leadership Northshore and Danell Gerchow, Kelly Rodriguez and Yvette Catoire for their dedication to this project and their commitment to providing all children with the access and freedom to play,” said St. Tammany Parish President Pat Brister.
The innovative playground accommodates special needs children who can play and interact with other children, with or without special needs. Adults with special needs have access to all parts of the smooth surface playground so they may play with their children and interact with other parents without the limitations most playgrounds offer. Physically challenged children have access to the play areas with their support equipment.
The amphitheater overlooks the picturesque Bayou Liberty, and has a seating capacity for approximately 120 people. The amphitheater will be used for numerous events throughout the year, including concerts, demonstrations, educational presentations and official ceremonies
Local music artist Christian Serpas will perform the first concert at the amphitheater May 11 during the Camp Salmen Spring Fling.
Camp Salmen Nature Park is located at 35122 Parish Parkway in Slidell and is open to the public Friday – Sunday, from 9 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. For more information on the park and activities held there, call, 985.867.9490 or visit www.campsalmennaturepark.org.