Anne Springs Close Greenway Announces $125k Pledge to Support Children’s Nature Playscape

Drive into the Anne Springs Close Greenway’s busiest entrance on any warm spring day, and you are immediately met with a variety of ages and activities being enjoyed near the Greenway Gateway and surrounding areas. The Lake Haigler entrance has quickly become the Greenway’s most visited entrance since the construction of the new welcome center in 2019 and with that, an influx in new members and visitors.

Over the last two years, staff have worked with private donors, Marty and Vesime Schroering, to craft a vision for a new natural playscape, dubbed the Schroering Forest Playground. The latest in several new amenities announced by the organization in recent years, the Forst Playground is planned for an existing mature growth tree stand adjacent to the Domtar Forest Porch. Staff have collaborated alongside the Natural Learning Initiative (NLI), a research and professional development unit at the NC State University College of Design, to create a natural environment for children and their families to enjoy when visiting.

Little girl plays on snail-like natural play structure outdoors
Photograph by Paul Upward, Example of Future Greenway Natural Play Structure

“Anne Springs Close Greenway has always been a special place for our family,” said donor and Fort Mill resident, Marty Schroering. “After being inspired by playgrounds we saw while visiting abroad, we wanted to bring the same fun and inspiration to Fort Mill to further nurture children’s imagination and creativity. We are excited to partner with the Greenway to bring this dream alive and share with the community we love.”

NLI was founded in 2000 with the purpose of promoting the importance of the natural environment in the daily experience of all children. A primary goal is to partner with likeminded organizations such as Anne Springs Close Greenway to create on-the-ground, research-driven demonstrations of nature-based solutions that get kids off the couch and outdoors. Most children today are too sedentary, glued to electronic devices indoors, becoming overweight or worse – a poor prognosis for future health. Insufficient contact with the natural world limits understanding of human dependence on nature.

Photo by Daniel Perales of children playing on natural climbing structure
Photograph by Daniel Perales, Example of Future Greenway Natural Play Structure

NLI offers evidence-based design assistance to help create a stimulating place for play, outdoor learning and environmental education. Regionally as open land and green space continue to diminish at a rapid rate, the Anne Springs Close Greenway serves to be a bridge for more children to experience and appreciate the outdoors. 

“The construction of the Schroering Forest Playground is an effort to enhance outdoor learning and natural play environments at the Anne Springs Close Greenway. This new amenity will bring more children to nature through the experiences of forest play, activating key sensory skills while developing creativity and confidence in the outdoors.”

John Gordon, President and CEO of Leroy Springs & Co., which operates ASCG

Research suggests there are a variety of ways nature enhances children’s physical, social, emotional and cognitive development, and the construction of a new natural playscape aims to bridge the gap for the three out of four children who do not get the recommended hour of active play per day. The Schroering Forest Playground will include a central feature and climbing structure for older children, a complementary structure for younger guests and a primary pathway that is ADA-accessible to ensure visitors of all ages and abilities can enjoy the playscape.

Construction of the project will begin with a phased approach, beginning with the central feature and toddler climbing structure, as well as fencing and other necessary infrastructure. The playground is set to open later this year, although no date has been finalized. To find out more information about how to support this project, text ForestPlay to 717-77 or reach out to


About the Anne Springs Close Greenway

Since 1995, the Anne Springs Close Greenway has provided a place for the community to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities from fishing, hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding to picnics, kayaking and more. The 2,100 acre nature preserve located in Fort Mill, SC is open daily from 7:00a.m. to sunset for outdoor recreation enthusiasts and nature lovers to use its 40+ miles of trails. The Anne Springs Close Greenway is owned and operated by Leroy Springs & Company, a 501(c)3 organization that receives no government funding for its ongoing operations and programs. The Greenway relies on revenues from its endowment, membership and program fees, and private contributions from individuals, community and corporate partners, and other donors to fund operations and capital needs. For more information, call 803-547-4575 or visit