In October 2020 Lydia’s House opened a nature playspace, to be shared by residents of Lydia’s House, Virginia Coffey Place and Azalea Montessori.

Thank you to our donors to this project!

ToGether Rising


Norwood Neighbors and Vineyard Central Church

The Carol Ann and Ralph V. Haile, Jr. / US Bank Foundation

Sutphin Foundation

William P. Anderson Family Foundation

Ruth Ann and Jim Doerger

Leah Efken Fox

Wildwood Flora

Angie Snelling

The Hipskind Trust

In memory of Tom Blankemeyer

Azalea Montessori


We decided to go with nature play, as opposed to a more traditional “play set” because we wanted to offer our families space for more creative play. You may not know much about nature play, but it’s a big deal right now! This play concept, which immerses kids in plants, logs and rocks is a lot like playing in the woods… except in the middle of the city. Studies of kids in nature play spaces have shown that this kind of play promotes*: 

* Enhanced cognitive abilities
* Improved academic performance
* Reduced Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) symptoms
* Increased physical activity
* Improved social relations
* Improved self-discipline
* Reduced stress

Design was led by Rachel Robinson Design Landscape Architecture. After months of discussions and planning, including input from our residents and visits together to local nature play areas, Rachel provided us with the basic scheme, below.

To learn more about nature play check out this guide to nature play and learning places:

*Source: Children and Nature Network (, Annotated Bibliographies of Research and Studies (2007)