LUMBERTON – Work is underway to place new playground equipment across multiple elementary schools within the Public Schools of Robeson County as part of the ESSER-funded playground project.
Workers could be seen assembling playground equipment Wednesday at Townsend Elementary School. One crew of AJ’s Company workers, contracted through Creative PlayScapes, plans to finish its portion of the project at the school next week so another team can place playground flooring made of rubber at the site.
“We’re really just getting it kicked off now,” said Kurt Karriker, owner of Creative PlayScapes.
The project is funded by $5.9 million from the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund.
When the project is complete, all elementary schools will have new playground equipment, Karriker said. He estimates the project to conclude in about six months. The delivery and installment of ESSER-funded playground equipment began last week at Fairgrove Elementary School.
Workers recently finished assembling equipment at the elementary school and will return at a later date to install rubber flooring.
“This allows children the opportunity to get out of the classroom and into fresh air during the school day,” said Bobby Locklear, assistant superintendent of Auxiliary Services at PSRC, of the additions.
St. Pauls Elementary School Principal Amanda Graham shared words of anticipation for the project’s reach to her school and schools throughout the district.
“I just can’t wait to see their faces,” Graham said. “This is state-of-the-art stuff.”
Locklear said the addition of new equipment also has an educational component.
“Placing new playground equipment at 22 of our schools also will allow our students to maximize their recreational time and engage in social activities that stimulate learning,” Locklear added.
The American Academy of Pediatrics released in September 2018 a clinical report that demonstrates the powerful effects of play on child development.
“Children need to develop a variety of skill sets to optimize their development and manage toxic stress,” the AAP report states.
“Research demonstrates that developmentally appropriate play with parents and peers is a singular opportunity to promote the social-emotional, cognitive, language, and self-regulation skills that build executive function and a prosocial brain,” the report states.
Playground equipment has a lifespan of about 15 years, according to Karriker.
“These playgrounds are additions we know students will enjoy as they continue to learn, grow and embark on the path to a brighter future through the Public Schools of Robeson County,” PSRC Superintendent Freddie Williamson said.
AJ’s Company Machine Operator Dartavius Rankin, left, works July 6 with Foreman Dean Bellamy to assemble a playground at Townsend Elementary School.
Shown below are photos of equipment recently installed at Fairgrove Elementary School.