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The Great Outdoors

"It was a telling sign when teachers, parents and students of Lockwood Elementary School in Billings, Mont., banded together to create the school’s playground — the ribbon-cutting was in September 2016 — there was plenty of institutional knowledge: such stakeholders came together in 1994 for a similar effort.

Sadly, that old playground deteriorated and had to be demolished, but undaunted stakeholders launched the new effort to envision an inclusive playground and finance its construction. The community pitched in, the local Parent Teacher Association raised more than $232,000 via fundraisers, in-kind donations and more; and youngsters $60,000 from bake sales to tooth fairy money. The end result: A playground equipped with a range of equipment, according to retired teacher and local activist Sue Robertson and kindergarten teacher and PTA President Whitney DiFronzo.

Such sustained efforts speak to playground action elsewhere, with crowdfunding, for example, playing a part of collaborative efforts around the country, notes Playworld’s Ian Proud, manager of Market Research and Inclusive Play. Proud notes other trends, including demand for materials that are “environmentally friendly, including PVC-free” and “easy to maintain” and long lasting. He also points out interest in playground equipment for children seven-plus years old."

To read the full feature in the November issue of School Planning and Management, click here

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