Fun and fit­ness

Latest school play­ground puts pri­or­ity on phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion

The Covington News - - SUNDAY LIVING - By Jenny Thompson jthomp­son@cov­

G en­eral Mills makes chil­dren smile not only with sweet, color­ful ce­real, but also with mon­key bars and climb­ing walls.

Rocky Plains El­e­men­tary PTO of­fi­cers and As­sis­tant Prin­ci­pal Lynne DiNardo or­ga­nized a rib­bon cut­ting Fri­day morn­ing for the new play­ground equip­ment pur­chased with the Gen­eral Mills “Fun and Fit­ness Grant.”

“Gen­eral Mills is pretty good about giv­ing grants,” said Denise Tymkew, PTO sec­re­tary, “and re­ally any­thing to help the chil­dren.”

PTO mem­bers worked with Gen­eral Mills and the New­ton County Com­mu­nity Part­ner­ship to re­ceive the $3,700 grant.

“Gen­eral Mills pro­vides the fund­ing, and we co­or­di­nate the pro­gram with the schools,” said Stu Taber, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the NCCP.

Taber ex­plained how the part­ner­ship works with Gen­eral Mills as well as the County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion and Board of Health to sup­port en­ter­tain­ing forms of fit­ness and health ed­u­ca­tion in the schools.

“Ex­er­cise is im­por­tant,” Taber said to the stu­dents at the rib­bon cut­ting. “You need to ex­er­cise ev­ery­day and eat and drink right.”

Tymkew said she and PTO Pres­i­dent Sandy Slemp, Vice Pres­i­dent Jamie Perez and Trea­surer Kim Bishop were ex­cited to hear they had re­ceived funds for what took about a year to plan.

“Kim and I took it on like kids in a candy store,” Tymkew said.

The new play­ground in­cludes a large hang­ing bar con­trap­tion com­plete with mon­key bars, loop hangs and zigzag poles. Bal­ance equip- ment sits at each end of the bar sys­tem — one end has what looks like the end of a crutch turned up­side down and the other end has steps re­sem­bling a crooked rail­road track.

Stu­dents can now also en­joy climb­ing on a space­cap­sule like struc­ture com­plete with foot and hand­holds, a railed plat­form and hollow crawl space un­der­neath.

Phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion coach Shanna Rachels said the new play­ground will en­hance chil­dren’s up­per body strength and bal­ance. She said the equip­ment will likely be uti­lized in the phys­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion cur­ricu­lum, es­pe­cially to pre­pare for the spring phys­i­cal fit­ness tests.

“We also needed some­thing for the older grades — the old play­ground was more for younger kids with the slides and swings and all,” Rachels said, “and they all seem to like it.”

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

Climber: Ariel Streeter, a first grader from Mary Jane Warner’s class makes her way up the new climb­ing wall be­hind Rocky Plains El­e­men­tary School, pur­chased with funds from a Gen­eral Mills “Fun and Fit­ness Grant.”

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

Swing­ing across the void: Six-year-old Ja­cob Mo­ran swings on the new mon­key bars at Rocky Plains El­e­men­tary Fri­day morn­ing.

Mandi Singer/The Cov­ing­ton News

Re­cess: First grade stu­dents from Mary Jane Warner and Lau­rie Crowley’s classes frolic on the new play­ground lo­cated be­hind Rocky Plains El­e­men­tary just min­utes af­ter the of­fi­cial ded­i­ca­tion and rib­bon cut­ting Fri­day morn­ing.

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