A safer place to play for local children

The Webster City Community Schools PTO is asking for donations to go towards expanding safe surface playgrounds at Pleasant View Elementary and Sunset Elementary schools.

Safe surface playgrounds use recycled rubber tiles instead of gravel rocks or concrete underneath the existing playground equipment. The PTO is hoping fully fund the projects through donations from local businesses and community members. The total estimated cost for the playground at Pleasant View Elementary is $45,726 and the estimated cost for Sunset Elementary is $21,044. The PTO is asking for donations of $50, which cover a single square tile of the playground. Those donations are tax-deductible.

Mindy Mossman, Pleasant View Elementary School principal, said the safe surface playgrounds offer a much safer cushion for students.

“There’s no comparison to dropping on a safe surface and falling onto rocks,” Mossman said.

She became fully invested in the project when one of her students fell onto the gravel surface this year and rocks were embedded in her skull and had to be removed.

Chuck Bonjour, Sunset Elementary School principal, said that the current gravel surface ideally provides a cushion as well. However, that gravel surface gets packed down over time and becomes very much like concrete.

Mossman said the safe surface playground would not become muddy or soggy like current surfaces. She said that on some days, children are instructed to only play on the safe surface area already installed at the school or on the blacktop due to weather conditions. With the expanded safe surface playground, children would have much more room to play during recess on those days.

Currently, about half the of the playground at Pleasant View and a third of the playground at Sunset are safe surface. Those playgrounds are utilized by students during recess, but are also a community asset. Mossman said that in warmer seasons, the playgrounds are full during weekends. That dual-usage is why the PTO is so invested in making this project happen.

“Really, the community is taking it on because these are community parks,” Mossman said.

Bonjour said, “You can’t pass our equipment during the spring, summer and fall and not see people out there,” Bonjour said.

The current playground equipment will continue to be used at the playgrounds. Bonjour said the playground equipment at Sunset will be consolidated onto the safe surface area, as the current playground is very spread out. The playground at Pleasant View will contain three separate areas of safe surface with cement in between those areas. Bonjour said the surfaces will be ADA accessible. He said he once had to help a grandparent out of the gravel on the playground after he got stuck there in his wheelchair.

The PTO is hoping to have the project funded and implemented this summer. For more information or if you wish to make a donation, contact Niki Kumm at 297-1130.