Dragon Hollow is a magical play land adjacent to Caras Park in downtown Missoula. This unique 6,000 sq ft play area was completed in 2001 through the joint effort of artists, architects and local children. It is open daily to children of all ages and is free to the public. Due to age, elements and popularity of this structure, it is due for renovations to ensure it remains attractive and safe. The average lifespan of wooden playground equipment is approximately 20 years. In addition, new materials and components will make future maintenance of the play area easier and less expensive.
While the current structure is accessible to children of all abilities, some added components, such as the expression swing, will provide additional access for children with unique needs. The expression swing is designed to promote adult and child interation during play. Research has found that when a parent and a child's eyes meet, particularly during play, there is an intense and significant moment of emotional bonding that occurs. Scientists call this "attunement" and it enhances the social, emotional and cognitive well-being of both children and adults.
Residents and visitors of Missoula, especially those with young children, in particular children with physical or mental disabilities, will benefit from having a safe, exciting place to play. With the addition of the expression swing, all children will know that they are welcome and wanted at Dragon Hollow. It will also encourage children of differing abilities to learn to play with and value each other.
Funds awarded through this grant will sponsor the purchase and installation of the expression swing during renovations of Dragon Hollow. Renovations will take place this summer with more than 2,300 volunteers, including the Sunrise Rotary, helping to plan, refurbish, expand and clean up the play area. The District and Sunrise Rotary will be recognized as a contributor to the project and sponsor of the expression swing on the donor wall and near the swing itself.