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New playground at Bailey Elementary now open

Bailey Elementary third grader Meghan Daly plays on the school's new playground last month. The new playground was installed last month after three years of fundraising.

Recess at Bailey Elementary School has an entirely new look.

Last month Bailey installed new playground equipment as part of its "Recess Rocks" campaign.

The playground is now open to the public.

"The biggest thing is we wanted it in when school started, so as far as installation goes we're happy it happened when it did," Bailey Principal Candace Hofstad said. "Aesthetically it looks ready to go."

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

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

Over the past three years the Bailey Elementary PTA has raised money through a variety of fundraisers.

The new playground equipment has a $50,000 price tag, $35,000 of which comes from "Recess Rocks" fundraising and $15,000 that comes from PTA carry-over money.

"I'm excited we could raise the money in the three year period and have it in for kids in the fall," Hofstad said. "We're excited about closing that chapter and opening new ones."

Getting students moving

Earlier this spring, Bailey Elementary PTA agreed on equipment from Burke Premier Playground 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.

"This equipment was exactly what we were looking for," Hofstad said. "We were really lucky, I think."

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

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.

Additionally, the playground equipment itself comes with a set of curriculum that physical education teachers can utilize.

"I think it gives new challenges for the kids," PTA member Barb Daly said. "They can learn from each other."

Daly and fellow PTA member Denise Mok said the new playground will be a great learning experience for students since it can challenge them physically.

"They want to get on there so they'll keep coming back," Mok said.

Hofstad said she is excited about the increased exercise the playground will grant students.

"I think it's going to bring a wider variety of activities to do outside," she said. "Not only is it going to be more fun playtime, it's going to be working on your core muscles."

Additionally, Hofstad said she is excited about the new recess options for students.

"It's going to get kids back on the playground and maybe doing less of the competitive sports," she said. "I imagine there will still be plenty of kids playing football and basketball - I'm not wanting to eliminate any of that - but I think it just gives another avenue for them to release some of their energy rather than always being competitive."

Unveiling the playground

Mok and Daly said they are excited for students to come back to school and see the new playground.

"I'm just excited for the first day, for the kids, to see what their reaction is," Daly said. "Those who are going to see it for the first time are going to be really excited."

Hofstad said they are considering unveiling the new playground during the school's annual back to school night.

"I think that would be fabulous to showcase it out there," she said. "We can have a big red ribbon on it."

Hofstad said it's a great feeling knowing that the new playground equipment is finally a reality.

"Now we just have a vast array of equipment out there to meet the needs of all our kids," she said. "That's what is exciting."

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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