Justine DeMelis

Landscape Architect

"It is paradoxical that many educators and parents still differentiate between a time for learning and a time for play without seeing the vital connection between them."

Leo F. Buscaglia

Qualifications

Bachelor of Landscape Architecture

My Professional Background

I have a diverse range of experiences working for many construction/landscape companies. I ran my own company in garden design and was a team leader while working for Parks and Recreation in varying municipalities, all whilst studying Landscape Architecture at the University of Guelph, Ontario. 

My final thesis, titled "Phobia of Children Adversity", came naturally as I had a lifetime of devotion to the topic. I examined park and playground design and the effect on how the children who experience them play, as well as the effect on children's development physically and socially. Conclusively the goal was to successfully provide children with designed landscapes where they can learn and have fun.

My Philosophy

Since the age of 3 I had the opportunity to live in the country and frequently visit my family's lake house which influenced greatly my outlook and involvement with nature. As a young girl I climbed trees, hid in corn fields, explored bush, rolled down dirt hills, rode bikes and foraged food (farmers' fields)... anything to immerse myself in the outdoors and get messy in the process. The world seemed to be ours to roam and explore with endless opportunity. My sister and I spent all our time outside as did many of the other local kids - exploring and having loads of fun. This was the start to shaping me into who I was going to be, what I was going to do in my future and my love and appreciation of nature. 

As a teenager this relationship with nature stayed at the forefront of all aspects of life and continued as I chose what jobs to take, what I did in my spare time and what I was going to study at university.

Today I look around and I don't see the same play opportunities that I had as a kid and as a mother I worry that my kids are surrounded by a plastic world where parents want to bubble wrap their children in hopes that they don't get hurt or dirty. This mindset over the past years has led to playgrounds that are largely composed of artificial materials which limit our children's opportunity to experience nature. The focus is on safety rather than what is important and best for the child.

As a Landscape Architect, a mother and employee at Nature Play Solutions my goal is to change this stigma through well designed nature based play. I am passionate about this provision and aim to ensure that children are provided with the opportunities they need for development. My Landscape Architecture journey is forever evolving as the environment we live in does. As I continuously dive into this field I learn more every day, contributing to my love of the profession. Each new person I meet, every new project started and research conducted, all stimulates creativity - redefining which path I follow. If nature is at the root of every design solution, we will not only enhance and cater to children's needs but also to the needs of our planet.