Join us in celebrating the opening of the NEA!
Ribbon Cutting & Community Celebration
Monday, November 1st, 2021 at 5:00 p.m.
Heron’s Head Park
32 Jennings St. San Francisco, CA 94124
We did it!
Kid-designed and constructed out of repurposed natural materials like logs, stumps, and boulders, our Nature Exploration Area (NEA) is ready to open on November 1st.
See photos and learn more about our process:
NEW: Nature Exploration Area @ Heron’s Head Park
Inspired by the Children & Nature movement to get kids to unplug and reconnect with the outdoors, the San Francisco Recreation & Park Department and the Port of San Francisco in collaboration with SF Children & Nature are installing a Nature Exploration Area (NEA) at Heron’s Head Park.
We’ve teamed up with play experts at KABOOM! and leaders in nature play design at Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds with generous funding from Kaiser Permanente to create a unique space where kids and families can gather, create, and play.
What’s a Nature Exploration Area (NEA)?
It’s a place where kids of all ages can connect, explore, and play in nature. A place where kids are encouraged to balance on logs, jump, play in mud, and use natural materials to build dens, castles, towers — the only limit is their imagination.
- The proposed site is between the EcoCenter and the parking area by the established outdoor classroom or “stump circle” where kids already jump and balance on the existing stumps.
- The NEA will create a safe and welcoming space for child-led unstructured play and discovery in nature as well as team-building challenges to complement EcoCenter programs.
- Part of the India Basin project that is transforming dilapidated industrial spaces and underperforming existing parks into a unified network of inspirational open spaces.
This natural play concept allows for active play, passive recreation, gathering with friends and family and creates pockets of exploration to stimulate the senses and inspire imagination.
To help design our new Nature Exploration Area, we asked the play experts.
Grab some markers and use your imagination to design a great place to play.
Virtual Design Space
On a computer or tablet, use this tool to design your dream nature play space. (Google account needed for now)
Because nature is good for us! Research shows that children who experience meaningful connections to nature in their daily lives are healthier, happier, and more resilient. Yet today’s kids spend half the time playing outside than their parents did.
Let’s change that!
Learn More: Nature Play Spaces
Cities are using nature play spaces to foster outdoor learning, improve kids’ health, and improve parks. This video from the Cities Connecting Children to Nature Initiative provides an overview of nature play spaces and how cities the
About our Partners
The San Francisco Recreation and Park Department administers more than 220 parks, playgrounds, and open spaces for the enjoyment and well-being of everyone in our diverse community.
The Port of San Francisco manages the waterfront as the gateway to a world-class city, and advances environmentally and financially sustainable maritime, recreational and economic opportunities to serve the City, Bay Area, and California.
San Francisco Children & Nature is a citywide collaborative that works to address the disparities in nature access along socioeconomic and racial lines to ensure all children have the opportunity to play, learn and grow in the outdoors.
The EcoCenter at Heron’s Head Park is a unique treasure in the Bayview Hunter’s Point Community. It is a space for environmental education, workshops, assembly, and a place where youth, families and community can gather and engage with nature.
Nonprofit Partner: KABOOM!, a national nonprofit that works to end playspace inequity. KABOOM! amplifies the power of communities to build inspiring play spaces that spark unlimited opportunities for every kid, everywhere.
Funding Partner: Kaiser Permanente
Design and Construction Consultants: Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds, leaders in the world of natural play and exploration.
Construction In-Kind Materials & Support
Community and Outreach Partners
- April: Community Design
- Mid May: Review Concept Design
- August: Design Finalized
- Fall 2021: Construction
- November 1st, 2021: Ribbon Cutting and Community Celebration