Schools strive to promote and fund what is best for their students. This may include experiences to enrich students’ lives, improved equipment and supplies to enhance their education or quality-of-life upgrades to their surroundings (like repairing cracked sidewalks) to keep students safe and healthy. One key place where children can enjoy both mental and physical benefits is none other than on the school playground.
The playground is a place for children to practice social interactions or simply receive a positive boost to their moods from being outdoors. There’s a reason why so many of us fondly remember recess time. As a result, school administrators and Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) that advocate for playgrounds are also advocating for the mental and physical health of schoolchildren!
Read on to learn why outdoor play is crucial to children’s development and how you can secure funding for upgrades to your school’s playground.
Advocating for School Playgrounds is Advocating for Mental and Physical Health
Playgrounds are synonymous with, well, play! Swing sets, climbing structures, spinners and more get kids moving and practicing important physical skills like hand-eye coordination. With equipment options that are designed with inclusivity in mind, school playgrounds today have the potential to give children with physical challenges a chance to participate in activities with their peers.
Physical activity is vitally important to children’s health. Over 40% of school-aged children are experiencing chronic health conditions such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and more, likely due in part to declining rates of physical activity. With nearly 40% of a child’s daily physical activity occurring during recess time, playgrounds can play a crucial role in reversing these troubling statistics and ensuring each school day includes some component of physical play.
This illustrates why you should encourage action from your school. Additionally, physical health goes hand in hand with mental health.
While physical activity in and of itself produces positive boosts to children’s moods, school playgrounds have some unique benefits to offer when it comes to promoting mental health. They can help children to:
- Develop social skills and bonds through interpersonal play
- Soak up outdoor experiences that engage all senses and spark wonder for the natural world
- Practice creativity and imagination through unstructured play
- Build confidence and problem-solving skills as they accomplish challenges, such as traversing a boulder element
With 20% of children in the U.S. diagnosed each year with a mental illness, schools are becoming more aware of the importance of mental health and looking for ways they can help support this growing need. Studies show that just being able to get outside can boost focus, happiness and more in students while alleviating feelings of stress and depression.
Playgrounds can help children develop internal skills such as empathy and perceptiveness, too ⏤ amplifying the exceptional role these types of outdoor spaces play in enriching the mental well-being of children.
How to Start Advocating for a School Playground Project
You’re ready to inspire your school’s PTA and administration to begin building or updating an inclusive playground, but how do you get started? Here are a few tips to set the wheels in motion:
- Consult a playground pro (like All Inclusive Rec) to get more details
- Create a prompt about your plan to add to the next PTA meeting’s agenda
- Present the mental and physical benefits of playgrounds to your PTA
- Talk to parents or PTA members about what playground design, furnishings and features are needed
These tips can get the conversation started around playgrounds, and their positive impact on children, at your school.
A Place Where Kids Can Be Kids
If your school is considering building or upgrading its playground, advocate for the project by centering the multitude of mental and physical benefits it can offer the children in the discussion. Playgrounds are an investment in long-term enrichment to make schools a place to not just learn, but to grow and play!
All Inclusive Rec designs every playground element in a project to be meaningful to the community it is built to serve. We ensure the mental and physical enrichment provided by your playground project benefits all children at your school. With nearly two decades of experience upgrading and building playgrounds from the ground up, we’re experienced in bringing our values of inclusivity, commitment to transparency, communication and fun to everything we do. All Inclusive Rec is also proud to offer products from only trusted vendors in the recreation industry.
Are you looking for inspiration to see what a modern school playground can be? Find All Inclusive Rec’s colorful photo gallery of inclusive playground projects. If you or your school wants to discuss playground ideas and receive expert feedback and project experience, reach out to us. You can also connect with a local representative by calling (573) 701-9787.