After going a month without playground equipment, students at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy have a new way of doing recess.
At the end of last week, elementary students were introduced to $45,000 worth of new playground equipment, replacing the decades-old predecessor.
“(Students) love it,” said Matt Maynor, Enota principal. “There are some that are more excited than others. The first day they were actually standing in line to get on some of the pieces. They’re very enthusiastic about the new playground.”
But the new outdoor digs at the Gainesville school are more than just slides and swings.
In fact, the equipment was chosen with a purpose in mind: a healthy outlet for student exercise.
A part of the school’s multiple intelligences charter is having “body smart” students. The “Stay Fit, Play Smart” playground is designed to keep children moving, climbing, swinging and jumping.
“It’s not just about slides anymore,” Maynor said. “Most of the stuff on our playground is climbing or hanging ... it’s a promotion of fitness.”
And it seems that the students can tell the difference but have no qualms about getting exercise. They just know they’re having fun.
“It’s a lot of fun,” said Camille Holcomb, a fifth-grader at Enota. “A lot of people like new stuff and it has different things. We are able to play with more things (than in the past) because stuff was breaking.”
Her classmate, Eric Ballard, said the new equipment allows for better recess time with his friends.
“It’s funner because all the older equipment pretty much was completely spread out, so it was harder to play with your friends,” he said. “(The new equipment) gives you more exercise because of that rock wall out there.”
The idea of the more interactive playground aligns with the Georgia Student Health and Physical Education Act, passed in 2009.
The SHAPE Act requires each school district to conduct annual fitness assessments, as well as encouraging proactive steps to combat the state’s childhood obesity rate.
According to georgiashape.org, nearly 40 percent of the state’s children are considered overweight or obese.
“We want to key that in for our kids to be healthy all around,” said Maynor.
Each grade level receives 20 minutes per day on the playground area.
Most of the $45,000 for equipment was raised over the last two years by Enota’s Parent Teacher Association, but the vision for the area started years before.
“It began with a vision from the students and faculty about six or seven years ago,” said Scarlet Pendarvis, chairwoman of Enota’s Stay Fit Play Smart Playground Committee. “They saw a need and brought it to the attention of the PTA.
“It’s been phenomenal to watch it all come together.”
But the task is not yet complete. Organizers want to see a walking/running path, along with an area with a brick patio recognizing alumni. It’s those bricks that will help fund the rest of the project.
Enota’s “Buy a Brick” campaign allows alumni, along with others, to purchase a personalized brick. The proceeds will go to help complete the playground project.
“There’s so much pride in people that have come through Enota and it’s just a way to recognize, ‘I went to Enota,’ or, ‘My mom went to Enota’ and just to show off and be proud of the family atmosphere we have here,” said Maynor.
To buy a brick, or for information on future alumni events, contact Pendarvis at email@example.com.