Playgrounds not just for kids anymore

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Gary Hein, principal of Euclid Middle School, envisions a playground where kids can play, seniors can stroll and babies can bounce.

He’s working with the city, South Suburban Parks and Recreation and Tri-County Health Department to make it a place that will draw not just kids, but the whole neighborhood.

“This area will act as a magnet not only to students at school, but to all the neighborhood children,” said Hein. “Euclid Middle School is located in the heart of a residential area. We expect this outdoor area to be a centerpiece for neighborhood activity.”

While the basketball courts are well used by students and others now, there are tetherball and foursquare courts that aren’t used so much. Planners suggest gardens, natural boulders, more trees and a play area with equipment for climbing, spinning, bouncing and resting.

“Enhancing these areas will make a positive impact on the existing campus, providing increased physical activity opportunities and strengthening the pride of the students at Euclid Middle School and the community at large for years to come,” reads the final proposal.

The project is part of Tri-County’s “Active Schoolyards, Active Minds” initiative, which allowed Littleton Public Schools to work with the Colorado Center for Community Development to design the improvements. The study and design were funded by a grant from the Centers for Disease Control.

“The ultimate aim of this planning process is to strengthen schools and their surrounding communities by designing schoolyards that promote social interaction, readiness or increased capacity for learning, and target the obesity epidemic through physical activity,” reads the plan.

Littleton City Council on March 5 authorized a resolution in support of the project for LPS to include with its grant application to Great Outdoors Colorado for $100,000 to help build the project. Mayor Debbie Brinkman suggested funding the remaining $25,000 out of the city’s fund that’s dedicated to open space acquisition and improvement.

Councilors Jim Taylor and Jerry Valdes voted against her motion, saying if the school undertook fundraising efforts for the rest, it could increase community buy-in for the project.