Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden now largest in Asia after S$12 million extension

LOUISA TANG Today Online 10 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE — From the flying fox, swing rope bridge to a wheelchair trampoline, these are some of the new attractions that young visitors can experience at the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden extension at the Singapore Botanic Gardens.

Built over a two-year period at a cost of approximately S$12 million, the extension to the four-hectare garden makes it the largest children’s garden in Asia. The construction was partially supported by a S$1.9 million donation from the Jacob Ballas Estate and Friends, and other fundraisers.

Officially opened by the National Parks Board on Friday (Nov 10), it will now offer attractions and programmes geared towards youths of up to 14 years old to enable them to learn about a range of eco-systems. Previously, the garden catered to children of up to 12 years old.

Some of the new features include the flying fox — a zipline connected to tall tree houses that children can glide along — and a swing rope bridge, as well as inclusive play equipment for children with special needs.

Children in wheelchairs will be able to enjoy playing on the wheelchair trampoline located in the forest zone, one of four new zones - farm, forest, stream, and orchard - in the extension. Five metallic “chairs” that children can sit on and thump — like percussion instruments — can also help children with autism to concentrate and focus through the repetitive nature of learning a tune.

The farm zone will give visitors the chance to get up close to the different fruits and vegetables grown there. They can also learn how to grow their own food, such as cocoa and tea, and make their own compost at home.

Mr Nelson Ham, 46, who visits the Children’s Garden about once a month with his two young daughters, said it was “very important” that inclusive play elements were included.

Aside from that, the construction firm director added that his favourite part of the extension was the bridge that overlooks the orchard and “brings us close to the trees”.

“There’s now a wide variety of features to enjoy. The way kids play now is different from last time – they interact a lot with their phones. So looking at streams and trees is important for them,” he added.

Over the next two weeks, the inaugural Singapore Botanic Gardens Children’s Festival will also host activities for children of all ages at the Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden and around the Botanic Gardens. These activities include storytelling sessions and a culinary classroom.

Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong, who officially opened the extension on Friday, said that over the last two decades, the Botanic Gardens has “not just grown in size, but also become richer and more diverse in its offerings”.

The new Ethnobotany Garden, which will allow visitors to learn about plants used by the indigenous cultures of Southeast Asia, will open sometime next year, added Mr Wong.

NParks unveils Asia’s largest children’s garden, launches festival
Channel NewsAsia 10 Nov 17;

SINGAPORE: The National Parks Board (NParks) has unveiled what it said is Asia’s largest children’s garden. The Jacob Ballas Children’s Garden at the Singapore Botanic Gardens has now doubled in size to four hectares, following a two hectare extension, NParks said on Friday (Nov 10).

Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong officiated the opening of the garden’s extension. The garden, which marks its 10th anniversary this year, includes attractions and programmes geared towards youngsters up to 14 years old. Prior to the extension, the Garden catered to children up to 12 years old.

The extension comprises four new zones which allow children to experience and learn about different eco-systems: Farm, forest, stream, and orchard. Inclusive play equipment in the Forest zone will also support play between children with and without special needs.

Mr Wong also launched the Children’s festival, held in celebration of the garden’s extension. It will feature over 100 educational programmes and fun activities where children can discover more about nature through play, craft, storytelling, investigations and walks.

Visitors can also enjoy festival activities, performances, carnival game booths and movie screenings at the Eco-Garden, as well as specially created horticultural displays.

The festival will run from Nov 11 to 26.

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