The wisdom of six: A kid’s-eye-view of life at Meridian Ranch

OK, grownups. Put the Google down for just a minute and let a real-life expert help you find the family-friendly neighborhood you seek.
Someone who’s a daily patron of the school system. A true playground connoisseur. And an unquestioned authority on the neighborhood social scene.
Meet Layla, six-year-old Meridian Ranch resident for more than half her life, along with three-year-old sister Harper, and parents Michelle and Will. The Army relocated Will and family to Colorado Springs from Alaska in 2013. They bought their home, sight unseen, in a neighborhood they only knew from internet research. Every time they Googled the issues they cared about most—safety, schools and an outdoor lifestyle—Meridian Ranch kept popping up. To Michelle and Will, Meridian Ranch seemed like an ideal place to raise the girls. And it has proven to be just that.

“I like to be outside all the time.”

As Layla explains, being able to play outside is pretty important to a kid—and she and Harper enjoy plenty of fresh air and activity at Meridian Ranch. In fact, Michelle says the girls are basically “outside 24/7.” They often head out to one of the community’s multiple parks, including the new 215-acre Falcon Regional Park, where they like to burn off energy on the swings and slides while their dad shoots baskets. Family bike rides are a regular thing too, on the community’s 10 miles of trails with mountain views in the background. Someday, Will expects the girls to be among the kids who take golf lessons at Antler Creek Golf Course, located right in the neighborhood. The award-winning course was another big draw for Will, who finds it just challenging enough.

“The yellow slide is fast.”

As mentioned, Layla is partial to a good slide, and when water is involved all the better. Two pools, indoor and out, at the Meridian Ranch Rec Center get the job done nicely, along with lap lanes, a whirlpool, lazy river and children’s water playground. But this 42,000-square-foot rec center offers many more ways to stay active, with youth and adult sports, fitness equipment and classes and, for the girls, child care while mom Michelle works out several times a week. They’re always happy to go, because “the teachers are really nice to us,” says Layla, “and we get to play with toys and color.”

“I like to learn.”

Going to school gets a big thumbs-up from Layla, who attends first grade at Meridian Ranch Elementary. Math is her favorite subject. Well, that and recess, of course. Having a neighborhood school means that you’ll see bands of kids walking and biking to school at Meridian Ranch. Layla’s school, along with Falcon Middle School and Falcon High School are part of the well-respected Falcon School District 49, which got high marks during the family’s online search. Layla has blossomed during her time at school, says her mom. Michelle notes the good class sizes and curriculum, and that the school “keeps the parents very involved.
I know what she’s learning each week.”

“I play with Olivia next door.”

Friends are an integral part of childhood—and adulthood for that matter. For Layla and Harper, there’s no shortage of other kids to play with in Meridian Ranch, which attracts many young families. The community also has an open, welcoming vibe that makes it easy to make friends, says Michelle. “The day we moved in, six neighbors came by to welcome us. There’’s a community feeling here that is unique,” she explains. “Some of my friends in other neighborhoods don’t really know their neighbors. But I know the majority of mine. I know that if I needed something, I could call them any time.”

Part of that friendly feel comes from having regular community events, like Halloween and Fourth of July celebrations, along with amenities that bring people together, like the trails, parks, the rec center and neighborhood schools. But Will also notes that many residents are current or former military like him, police officers or fire fighters. “There’s a strong community bond here of people who have put their lives on the line,” he explains. Salt-of-the-earth neighbors add a sense of safety that translates into kids playing outside. Families tend to keep an eye out for each other’s kids.

The Army may have prompted the move to Colorado Springs, but now that Will is a civilian working at Memorial Hospital, the family has no plans to move. For Will and Michelle, the community has far exceeded their expectations, and Layla and Harper are thriving. Apparently, intuition—and Google—were right on the money. As two, pint-sized experts happily confirm.

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