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Central Elementary parents fix up the playgrounds

A U.S. map is painted on pavement at the south end of the school. Hastings Central Elementary School’s two playgrounds have structures that are aging. Even with regular maintenance, the playgrounds need sprucing up after being used by students during the school year, as a playground for other organizations during the summer, as a local park for the community and from occasional vandalism.

“Without bond funding or significant sums of money available for equipment replacement, I proposed a low-cost and low-maintenance solution of painting activities on the asphalt surfaces,” Catie Case said. “The article in The Reminder this spring highlighted grant funding available through the Barry County Parks and Recreation and, subsequently, Central was awarded one of these grants.”

Case said they will be reimbursed up to their estimated $1,947 budget for the project.

“We used these funds to purchase paint, painting supplies, measuring tools, stencils, picnic tables and ball carts.”

Sunday, school staff – including Principal Sarah Geukes, school social worker Leah Lucas, and office administrator Kelly Adrianson – parents and some members of the community spent a hot afternoon accomplishing the first phase of the project. This included four basketball court keys for the new hoops, two four-square courts, and a large-scale U.S. map on the larger of the two playgrounds.

“Going forward, we will be adding a conflict-resolution 'peace path,' yoga pose stencils, a solar system 'walking labyrinth' and a few other possibilities,” Case said.

They also are planning to prepare the second playground as they did the first, by leaf-blowing and power-washing the paved surfaces. These also will be covered in brightly colored activities to get kids running, jumping, crawling, spinning and playing cooperatively.

“The goal of this project is to provide affordable, high-intensity activities for students while creating a colorful and inviting public space that shows our students and community how much they are cared for,” she said.

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