Robinson Elementary is one of many schools in Augusta, KS, and the lowest income elementary school in the city. The Robinson Elementary PTA had been fundraising for a new playground for several years. “The biggest driver behind the project was Annette Athy, part of the Robinson PTO group, doing countless hours of research, grant writing, fundraisers, visits between Superintendent/school board and the elementary school parents/teachers/students,” says Kate Shepard of Playscape Recreation, “She was relentless in turning every stone.”
The school attended an education session on maximizing youth fitness, presented by PlayCore, and got excited about how their play area could help promote healthy lifestyles among children. Once they met with Kate Shepard, the local Playscape playground representative for Play and Park Structures, they took stock of what they could augment the current playscape with to provide a full play experience, and save some money in the process. They found that one structure needed some updates, and that the swings and a stand-alone slide were still in good shape. Utilizing the Play On! program guidelines to assess how to offer a well-rounded youth fitness experience, they realized what they needed was climbers, balancing apparatus, and spinners. Play and Park Structures offered a 100% matching grant and this program, coupled with utilizing what was still compliant, helped the school realize they could make a design attainable to get the kids what they needed now.
Annette then met with the Superintendent and asked if he would match the PTO’s earnings to fix the equipment that needed to be up to safety code. The Superintendent gladly matched the PTO funds, then Annette received another 5K grant from Lowes to create shade for the play space. Other items that were purchased included outdoor music and a buddy bench. “She is truly creating a healthy social, academic, and physical outdoor place for school!” shares Kate Shepard.
With this new playground follows new excitement and renewed love for the playground. This project allowed Robinson Elementary to have new play equipment for the first time in 10 years and is enjoyable not only for the younger kids but for the older elementary students as well.
“We wouldn’t have been able to expand our playground without the help from Kate Shepard and our Superintendent, Dr. Black. It really helped us stretch our budget to better accommodate the playground for all ages to get active and enjoy play,” added Annette Athy.
The new site recently opened in January 2018 and they are planning to celebrate this new playground by holding an official grand opening April 5th, 2018 at Robinson Elementary School in Augusta, Kansas. This playground demonstrates a community’s commitment to promoting youth fitness using the Play On! program.
PlayCore recognizes Robinson Elementary School as a Play On! National Demonstration Site following the research and programming of the Play On! Program, designed by PlayCore and partner SHAPE America, as it promotes physical activity through the six elements of play to create developmentally appropriate challenges and fun for all.
To continue to celebrate the Robinson Elementary’s commitment to advancing play and recreation through best practices, the school will receive a certificate of recognition, become a part of a network of potential research sites, and will be promoted actively to other communities wishing to create recreation spaces using design and/or programming. To locate the new site, check out http://www.playcore.com/map/nds.