Kelly Elementary School to receive playground grant

Friday, June 22, 2007

Kelly Elementary School is in line to receive a $30,000 grant from the federal government that will help make the school's playground safer for students.

Earlier this month the State Interagency Council for Outdoor Recreation recommended the school for the grant awarded by the National Park Service.

The grant will help pay for material to replace the playground's current pea gravel surface, which elementary principal Fara Jones said causes several problems for the school -- from students tracking the material indoors after recess to prohibiting students in wheelchairs from joining in playground activities.

"Our wheelchair students are just sitting there watching the other kids play" because the wheelchairs are almost impossible to navigate on the surface, Jones said.

The new material will be made from recycled rubber placed down in tiles. Jones said the material will provide a smoother playing surface and one that is softer, helping reduce injury when children inevitably fall on the playground.

The grant isn't guaranteed, because the park service has the final say. But Missouri Department of Natural Resources spokeswoman Sue Holste said "it's pretty unusual" that the recommendations aren't granted. The process could take several months, however.

The $30,000 grant requires a 55 percent local match, and Jones said the school will also use another $10,000 grant awarded for the project. The school will probably need to raise about $15,000 for the local contribution, Jones said, which will likely be acquired through fund-raising drives.

The new playground material should be in place by spring, Jones said, and will make the playground compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

335-6611, extension 182

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