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Bailey Elementary supporters make final push for playground funding

Bailey Elementary is in the process of raising $50,000 to purchase the Intensity Fitness Play Complex, from Burke Premier Play Equipment. The equipment will be geared towards the older students at the school and include a lot more active equipment, rather than stationary slides and monkey bars

Bailey Elementary School is just steps away from giving its playground a facelift.

The school is just about $15,000 shy of purchasing a new piece of playground equipment as part of its "Recess Rocks" campaign.

The new playground equipment will cost $50,000.

"We're positive we're going to meet our goal," said PTA member Barb Daly.

"Recess Rocks," which started in the fall of 2008, aims to raise money to purchase new playground equipment, while encouraging more active children in school and at home.

District 833 does not provide any funding for new playground equipment.

Getting a new piece of playground equipment has become much more of a reality for the students too since the school recently decided on what equipment to buy.

Bailey Elementary PTA decided to purchase equipment from Burke Premier Play Environments.

The equipment, the Intensity Fitness Play Complex, is designed to challenge and exercise young bodies, according to the Burke website.

The Intensity Fitness Play Complex is unique from other playground equipment in that it utilizes a lot of spinning, climbing and jumping equipment rather than the standard slides and swings.

"We have enough slides and swings," Daly said.

Additionally, the equipment allows children to not touch the ground until they are ready to head inside.

"Our goal was to get a playground for the older kids," Daly said. "This is really the new technology in getting them moving - kind of the 360-degrees play.

"The younger kids are using the playground already whereas the older kids are not."

The new equipment also comes with curriculum for physical education teachers where they can teach students how to use the playground "so they can challenge themselves," Daly said.

"It motivates the kids to work up to a certain level and try new things with each piece because each piece can be used differently," PTA member Denise Mok said.

Daly and Mok said they liked the Burke equipment because it would work the older students' upper bodies and give the younger children something to work up to.

"The older kids are kind of sick of the slide and climbing up to the platform kind of thing, so this equipment will challenge them to use more of their muscles," Mok said. "Plus the little ones can work up to it and that'll be an accomplishment for them."

Getting them moving

In conjunction with the fundraising efforts, the PTA is also campaigning to get more kids active during recess.

"Stimulating the brain by movement helps children be more involved in school and be more attentive," Bailey Elementary Principal Candace Hofstad said.

Some of the additional incentives the PTA has developed through "Recess Rocks" include implementing more active activities during indoor recess, encouraging teachers to take their kids outside for extra play time rather than having pizza parties, sending out a newsletter to parents with tips on how to get their kids outside and active and even starting a morning exercise for students.

"Students have such limited amount of free play at school," Daly said. "So, through recess they are getting that exercise they desperately need."

Getting the money in place

Over the past three years the Bailey Elementary PTA has raised money through a variety of fundraisers such as spaghetti dinners, classroom penny drives, entertainment book sales, Barnes and Noble fundraisers and collecting empty ink cartridges and cellphones.

Last week, the school kicked of its final fundraising push by selling vouchers for hanging flower baskets at school in cooperation with Zywiec's Landscaping and Greenhouse in Cottage Grove.

Bailey Elementary will also be selling its flower baskets during the annual Lion's Club Garage Sale on May 11.

"A lot of people are excited about the hanging baskets," Daly said. "I mean, who doesn't love hanging baskets."

Both Mok and Daly said they are optimistic the school will raise the last of the money by the end of the school year.

"Once everyone saw the playground, it reignited the excitement," Mok said.

If all goes as planned, Bailey Elementary should have its new playground addition by the first day of school in the fall.

"The equipment is going to kind of be the end cap - it's going to balance the playground," Mok said. "We're going to have everything we would need at that point."

Bailey Elementary will be selling vouchers for 10 inch hanging flower baskets for $22 and 12 inch hanging flower baskets for $39 on May 11 at the school during the Woodbury Lion's Club Garage Sale. Vouchers qualify for up to 1,500 basket varieties.

Bailey Elementary is also accepting donations to its "Recess Rocks" campaign. All donations to the "Recess Rocks" campaign can be mailed directly to Bailey Elementary, 4125 Woodlane Drive.

Amber Kispert-Smith

Amber Kispert-Smith has been the schools and Afton reporter at the Woodbury Bulletin since 2008. She holds a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Minnesota. She previously worked as a reporter for Press Publications in White Bear Lake.

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