The Guilford County Board of Commissioners went into a long closed session on Thursday, May 6, and, when they came out from behind closed doors, they made a surprising move.  

The Board voted to allocate up to $225,000 to Sandhills Center – a management entity that oversees mental health administration for Guilford County –  to build a specialized playground for kids with mental health issues.   

The playground will be used by young children while staying at the new Guilford County Behavioral Health Center campus.

County officials note that – while it will be a place where children play in a playground-like atmosphere – the design must take into consideration a lot of things that wouldn’t be necessary in ordinary playground design – since this will be for kids facing mental health issues,

Guilford County Clerk to the Board Robin Keller said it certainly won’t be like a typical playground that one finds at city parks.

“The word ‘playground’ really doesn’t do it justice,” Keller said of the space coming to the new mental health campus, which is meant to be the centerpiece of a totally new way of handling behavioral health issues in Guilford County.

Keller said that, in order to preserve privacy, the area must be free from outside prying eyes – which means a privacy wall of some sort will be built around the playground.  She also said that it must be free of objects that kids could use to hurt themselves or others.  She noted that the flooring could be made of soft material and that there can be no sharp corners on things or items that could be used as projectiles. 

Though a commissioner reading the resolution after the closed session used the word “playground,” the project will officially be known as an “outdoor therapeutic space.” 

Guilford County is in the final stages of constructing the new Behavioral Health Center in the Maple Street Professional Center at 931 Third St. in Greensboro.

 The campus will include a building for Guilford County, in conjunction with Cone Health, to provide mental health treatment for adults.   Next door, on the same campus, Sandhills will run a facility for adolescents with behavioral issues.  

The new playground will be connected to Sandhills’ facility.