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
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
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
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
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.