Tornado destruction used to build play area at Trotwood library

More than a year after tornadoes left a trail of destruction in the Miami Valley the Dayton Metro Library Trotwood branch has turned some of the wreckage into an outdoor play area for children.

Trees downed during the Memorial Day tornadoes were used to build all the play structures and animal sculptures were created with local wood.

“What a beautiful way to turn a community tragedy like the tornadoes into something filled with hope and cheer,” said Caitlin Wissler, manager of the Trotwood library.

Chainsaw sculptor Nick Smith built the play structures and his wife, artist Amanda Smith, made the animal sculptures.

“We’ve been so excited about this project since we started on it last year, and it’s been wonderful to see it all come together,” said Nick Smith. “I’ve worked as a certified arborist for 15 years, so I was able to salvage storm-damaged wood for the play area. All of the play pieces are made from that wood. The sculptures are carved by chainsaw using up-cycled wood from local trees as well.”

The idea for the play area came from the Leave No Child Inside: Miami Valley Collaborative, said Jayne Klose, Dayton Metro Library community engagement manager. The collaborative encourages outdoor exploration, play and learning for children. The Mark A. Kreusch Memorial Fund paid for the project.

The library originally planned to only have the play structures in the outdoor area, but after learning of Nick Smith they decided to include the animal sculptures as well.

“The animal carvings really activate the nature play area,” Klose said. “They add whimsy and reinforce our strategic goal of encouraging children to play and learn.”

The play area includes benches, stumps and sculptures of bears, a turtle, a rabbit, an owl, a cat and a bookworm.

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