Fourteen Mancos elementary schoolers are helping design a new playground on the school’s campus.
The Re-6 District will pursue a $110,000 Great Outdoors Colorado grant in hopes of building the playground next year. School officials will unveil the design plans for the playground at a chili dinner fundraiser at 5:30 p.m. November 14 at the Mancos schools cafeteria.
“The beautiful thing about this is the students are involved,” Elementary Principal Cathy Epps said. “It’s all centered around nature-based education.”
The total project cost is expected to be $147,000. The district is responsible for providing 25 percent, or $37,000, of that cost, both in cash and in-kind contributions, Epps said.
A meal is $5 at the event on November 14, and that will contribute toward the $11,000 needed for the district’s cash portion of the funds. In-kind contributions can include donated or discounted professional services, equipment or materials.
If the grant is awarded, the final product will be open to the community and integrated with the Mancos Riverwalk, which is directly south of the existing playground.
“It’s exciting for what it will do for the town,” Epps said.
The current playground equipment is in need of an upgrade, with outdated equipment and bare poles that once had tetherballs, Epps said.
The youth task force includes third-graders Aysia Matthews, Joseph Williams, Brooke Jabour, Greta Thompson and Lily Wilson, fourth-graders Sarah Knezek, Teagan Archer, Chauncey Aspromonte and Adaline Kearns, and fifth-graders Connor Lee, Jayce Meek, Sam Simmons, Mandi Peacock and Alli Powell.
Climbing, digging and swinging areas were the top priorities for the new playground design, the task force members said. They are working with designers and engineers from Denver-based firm MIG to integrate those aspects, as well as an outdoor classroom.
A fence currently separates the Riverwalk from the playground, but the new design would see the fence removed and the trail connected to the play areas. Connor said he was looking forward to the nature aspects of the design.
“I love science, so I’m excited to learn more about the river,” he said.
Greta, who likes to read, said she was excited for the climbing equipment, because it will have nooks where people can sit and read or have a quiet moment.
The playground plan also includes a group swing that would replace the tire swing. In the winter, kids sled down a hill on the athletics practice field, and that hill would be made bigger.
A Colorado Parks and Wildlife program would provide teacher training to help educators integrate curriculum standards with the outdoor classroom, Epps said. It could benefit older Mancos students, who could use the space for their classes, such as writing.
“Nature-based play positively affects students,” Epps said. “This opens the possibilities.”