With the sun shining and cool breezes blowing, the Queen Elizabeth II Botanic Park in North Side was the scene of another successful family fun day, which was held in partnership with the Garden Club of Grand Cayman.

A steady stream of close to 800 visitors passed through the park gates on Sunday, Jan. 22, delighted to have the chance to take in the fine weather and enjoy a family oriented outing.

The event was a fundraiser for the park’s new Children’s Garden, which is anticipated to provide a much needed venue in the eastern districts for school groups and the general public offering educational facilities and hands-on activities for youngsters with a focus on learning by doing.

At the fun day donations were being taken, an assortment of activity stations like crafts and seedling planting, as well as the extremely popular face-painting booth that had a long wait list throughout the day. Highlights of the day also featured live music, a jerk stand and a magic show. Tours of the Blue Iguana Recovery Program’s breeding facility on the park grounds were also in high demand.

Ground has already broken on the Children’s Garden, which aims to serve as a science book brought to life, and which is set to take shape on a previously unused site adjacent to the park’s visitors’ center.

“We have a very exciting concept for what it’s going to include, for instance a tree house structure, tunnels for the kids and classroom facilities,” said park manager John Lawrus, who was on hand to discuss the various components of the garden with visitors throughout the day.

“We very much want it to be a kids’ space, where when they get there they will feel that it’s just for them and want to take ownership of it,” he said.

“Ideally, they will tell the adults to keep out, that it’s for them, and we are designing the features to ensure they are kid sized and fun.”

As previously reported in the Compass, the garden is being designed with assistance from architect John Doak, featuring plenty of shade and with an emphasis on earth sciences. A sensory garden will encourage youngsters to smell, taste and touch, a flower structure will demonstrate parts of flowers and plants on a large scale, and there will be a lawn area for play.

The hope is that children will learn by experiencing, for example, learning about recycling by being inside a giant bird’s nest. An area with raised planting beds will offer a way for kids to get their hands dirty, and hopes are the garden will also include water features, mini ecosystems, tunnels, an amphitheater, a rope bridge and even a maze.

With an anticipated two-year build-out, Mr. Lawrus noted that how soon the project is completed will largely depend on funding.

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