NORMAL, Ill. (WMBD) — There has been significant construction progress for the natural playground at Colene Hoose Elementary school in Normal. The project covers 16-acres of land.

“Natural playgrounds are basically this important place for kids to connect to nature,” said designer Adam Bienenstock.

A life-sized chess game, swing garden, and an amphitheater are just some of the features that will be at the new natural playground. The conversation about the project started three years ago when alum Charlie Jobson decided to give back to the community that raised him.

Jobson donated $5.1 million for the project to be completed. Due to COVID and the weather, the project has had a few hiccups but he said he is glad to see it coming together.

“It looks great. I think it’s going to look even better in Spring when everything blooms and put in some more shrubbery in and so forth so. It looks great and it’s going to get even better,” said Jobson.

A natural playground is built with materials from the earth and also incorporates learning. Jobson said he hopes it’s a great natural resource for the community.

“The kids are going to create their own games, use their own imagination and really take extra risks. And they’re going to create their own fun. If you come out and watch the kids play you’re going to see them really use their creativity in this natural playground versus a traditional playground,” Jobson said.

The playground was created to be a space for people of all abilities.

“This is a space that is designed specifically for people of all abilities, all ages, genders. This is where anybody has a place of mastering. From the physical play down to the fine motor play, down to the social, creative, dramatic play, it’s all designed for people of every ability,” said Bienenstock.

Jobson said he got the idea vacationing in Scandinavia and seeing how Scandinavians incorporated natural play into their kids’ lives. The grand opening is set for the spring.