Tuesday, February 26, 2002 Volume 67, Issue 101



School gets playground

By Andrew Fritsch
Daily Cougar Staff

Playground construction sponsored by The Alliance for Constructivist Education began Saturday for the UH Charter School, which is now located behind Melcher Gymnasium.

Mauro Alvarez/The Daily Cougar

Students from the UH Charter School will benefit from the construction of playground equipment sponsored by The Alliance for Constructivist Education. Volunteers began working on the equipment Saturday.

"This project is parent-driven, and everyone working out here is a volunteer. Parents and kids are here today," said Charic Daniels, president of ACE, which
essentially serves as the Charter School's Parent-Teacher Association.

Construction was in full swing, with a volunteer crew composed of about 30 adults and 10 children. The parents, of course, did most of the labor, while the
kids tested the already installed equipment, which consisted of donated climbing tires and a boat secured in a sandbox.

"People have been very kind to us," said Lionel Jellims, construction coordinator and Daniels' husband. Exxon-Mobil, Lowe's, James Coney Island, HEB
Pantry Food Stores and Wal-Mart all contributed to the construction effort.

Also providing assistance was Halcyon Reese-Learned, who designs playgrounds. She oversaw the playground design to ensure federal guidelines for
playgrounds and Consumer Product Safety Commission standards were met.

"The equipment being installed is manufactured by Kompani, which is a Danish manufacturer that specializes in designs for school-age children (ages 5 to
12 years)," Reese-Learned said. "School-age children don't get enough challenge on playgrounds."

The new equipment is part of Kompani's space-age line, and it is more challenging both mentally and physically because the designs focus on
three-dimensional usage, allowing children to approach the equipment however they choose, unlike traditional playground facilities, which have more linear
designs, Reese-Learned said.

"Part of the emphasis is that kids can change their environment," Reese-Learned said.

"The kids decided what was going to be in the playground, and they picked this," Daniels said.

The Kompani-designed equipment called Spikos allows children to sit on a built-in chair and spin up and down a metal cylinder. Another piece allows for the
same rotational motion, but the rider holds on with both hands while spinning.

Ben Amos, owner of E.J.C. Services, volunteered construction services and expertise for the installation. Amos is one of the few contractors who can properly
install playground equipment, Reese-Learned said.

An additional $12,000 structure that contains slides and a wall will be installed later. The project, which has been in the planning stages for about one year,
should be completed in three years.

Construction on a natural habitat, which will contain a garden and butterfly conservatory, also began Saturday, Daniels said. Diane Foss from Texas Parks
and Wildlife consulted and donated more than 200 plants for this branch of the project.

Additional work dates are scheduled until the project is complete, Charter School program manager Pam Smith said.

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