Hoping to make outdoor play even healthier for young children at the Winter Park Day Nursery and the Welbourne Avenue Nursery, the Winter Park Health Foundation (WPHF) has approved two grants totaling an estimated $32,000 to improve the schools’ playgrounds.
The grants were prompted by a playground audit performed at the two schools in 2013–also supported by a WPHF grant. The auditor recommended playground enhancements that will ensure safety and increase the amount of space available for play.
At the Winter Park Day Nursery, new, more pliable materials will be used to replace part of the concrete bike path and the bike corral will be relocated to ensure greater use of the playground.
The grant will enable the Welbourne Avenue Nursery to make stairs leading to the playground accessible for disabled children and to replace side panels on playground equipment. The panels will be embossed with fruits, vegetables and numbers to reinforce healthy habits training and counting skills taught in classes.
To keep costs down, volunteers will be used to help remove equipment and prepare the sites. In addition, the Winter Park Day Nursery is seeking additional grant dollars to match the WPHF contribution.
“There is no doubt that outdoor play is essential to the good health of these young children,” said Debbie Watson, WPHF Vice President. “We hope the improvements will enhance the playgrounds providing more opportunities for children to play each day.”
The improvements will enable students “to swing hard, run fast, and bike hard, all increasing the energy being expended by the children. By allowing the children to play hard safely, they are likely to burn more calories, and that has been proven to help prevent obesity,” said Ali DeMaria, Executive Director for the Winter Park Day Nursery. “Not only does this energetic play increase the children’s physical health, it benefits their cognitive, social and emotional development as well.”
“This award will not only offer safety enhancements to our existing structure, but it will spark a new interest for the children during their outdoor play,” said Robynn Demar, Executive Director of the Welbourne Avenue Nursery. “This grant will allow us to continue nurturing the cognitive development of our children by teaching healthy habits of a well-balanced diet, proper nutrition, and daily physical activity while in our care.”
WPHF, now celebrating its 20th anniversary, is a private not-for-profit organization dedicated to working with nonprofits—such as the Winter Park Day Nursery and the Welbourne Avenue Nursery—to inspire more physical activity and healthier living in Central Florida.