Running, jumping, and climbing are important for gross motor development. Making friends and taking turns are critical social emotional skills. Time spent on the playground helps children to develop physically, socially, cognitively, and imaginatively. With 90% of brain development occurring by age five, this is a critical time for young minds and bodies to have access to the learning opportunities provided by a playground.
Even before the pandemic, poverty created barriers to outdoor play including transportation, lack of safe spaces, and parents’ work schedules to name a few. Hit hard by the pandemic, the challenges faced by low-income families have only multiplied. The barriers to outdoor play are rising higher. Just imagine the long-term effects on today’s children, growing up in a world where community playgrounds were taped-off and social distancing is encouraged. For some of our youngest students, this is the only world they have ever known.
Many of our students at Peake CC rely solely on their time at school for playground experiences. “Being a single mother, full-time student, and full-time worker keeps me busy. When my daughter Kingsley and I get home at night, we barely have time for dinner and a bedtime routine let alone time to play outdoors. Kingsley, now three, has been enrolled at Peake since before she could walk. I know this school is a key factor in her development and I feel so blessed to have them as part of my village. The trust I have in this school is immeasurable!”
As if the pandemic wasn’t enough, another adversary of outdoor play is quickly approaching – bad weather. As the seasons change and the temperature drops, our children will need to be inside far more often. Being indoors requires masks and enhanced pandemic precautions. Our teachers will do their best to keep the children active inside their classrooms, but there’s a better solution. We just need your help.
This Winter season we will be working with our community to raise the funding necessary to create a gross motor skills room for our students. Volunteers have already cleared the room and a generous organization has invested in some start-up costs. This indoor playscape will provide endless opportunities for development, similar to those provided by an outdoor playground. The new equipment will enable children to improve their balance and coordination while relieving their stress, releasing energy, and interacting with their peers. These skills are even more important now as our families are challenged by the pandemic and struggle to find time for play, both indoors and outdoors.