Multi-million dollar gift to fund ‘world class’ natural playground in Normal

The playground will be built in stages so kids can play outside at recess during construction. (Photo courtesy: Heart of Illinois ABC)

By Heart of Illinois ABC

BLOOMINGTON – A long-time resident of Normal is giving back to the community in a big way by donating $5.1 million for a “world class natural playground” at his old school.

The Unit 5 School Board on Wednesday accepted the gift from Charlie Jobson and the Jobson Family Foundation to build a 16 acre playground at Colene Hoose Elementary School at 600 Grandview Drive in Normal.

The board also entered into a contract with Bienenstock Natural Playgrounds to build the new grounds.

The foundation is also committing $70,000 annually for three years to maintain the playground, including the hiring by Unit 5 of a horticulturalist-arborist.

According to the donor agreement, the Jobson Family Foundation was established in late 2017 “to engage in charitable giving in line with the Foundation’s vision to create a world where children and communities are more connected to nature.”

Jobson is making the donation to honor his parents who lived and worked in Normal and raised their children there.

The playground will be built in stages so kids can play outside at recess during construction.

Copenhagen designer Helle Nebelong is drawing up plans for the playground. He started working on the project in August of last year.

Heart of Illinois ABC can be reached at [email protected]


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