Playground preparation

Published 9:53 am Monday, November 8, 2010

Paula Buendorf stands by the Smartboard in her room and encourages her students to dance along to the video. She said her students are excited that they’ll soon have an outdoor playground. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

Donors to Lakeview Elementary School’s new playground were invited to visit the school and classroom of the students they’ve helped Thursday.

Eric Hudspith, director of facilities and transportation at the Albert Lea School District, wanted to give the donors a chance to meet the children they’ve helped and visit the new playground, which is under construction.

Paula Buendorf’s class waves while posing for a photo. Buendorf said the students are excited for the new playground. -- Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

The autism and options programs have been growing at Lakeview, and they have outgrown their small fenced-in playground area. Staff at Lakeview searched for grants and, after not finding a suitable one, went around the community asking for funds to update the playground equipment for the students in their classrooms who can’t use the larger playground equipment other classrooms use.

“In bigger playgrounds, they don’t engage,” teacher Paula Buendorf said.

She said having their own playground will help them learn the equipment and how to play safely. Sheila Riebe, who works with students who have emotional or behavioral disorders, said the larger playground at the school can be too much stimulation.

“We could see their anxiety increasing,” Riebe said.

She said mixing the options students with Buendorf’s class helps the options students learn positive leadership roles. Previously the students had a smaller fenced-in area with a small, wooden playset. It became a safety issue as the students grew up and as more students came into the program. Hudspith said it will be a good benefit for the district.

“The more opportunities we can provide, the better it makes the district,” Hudspith said.

He said one of the districts’ aims is to provide opportunity for achievement and this will help this subset of students. Other than using district labor and some safety funds, the playground is made possible by donations from community members. Hudspith said less than 5 percent of the project will use district funds. Just a few of the donors to the project came on Thursday to see the playground and meet some of the students.

Project organizers and donors pose for a photo in Lakeview Elementary School’s enclosed playground. The back row from left are Ken Leland, James Broberg, Mark Ciota, John Peterson and Irene Anderson. Front row from left are Lakeview staffers Sheila Riebe, Stacie Stensrud and Paula Buendorf. — Kelli Lageson/Albert Lea Tribune

Ken Leland, James Broberg, Mark Ciota, John Peterson and Irene Anderson came Thursday to Lakeview. Leland said he heard about the project through his son, Bill Leland. He then made some phone calls to find other people who might be interested in the project.

“I liked the idea — everyone should have a chance,” Leland said. “They’ll be able to adjust to society in a useful way.”

Anderson and Peterson got involved after they saw a presentation from Lakeview staff at their Lions Club meeting.

“We thought it was a great idea,” Anderson said. “We think it’s something we’ll continually contribute to.”

Peterson agreed and said the Lions Club support many different children’s programs. Staff at Lakeview reached out to local businesses, service clubs and people they knew to help with the project.

“This is a worthwhile thing for the community to get behind,” Peterson said.

The two programs have about 20 students and will both benefit from the alternate playground. Some benefits include safety, sensory opportunity, supervision needs, clearly defined play areas and fewer children. Buendorf said they have a lot of technology in their classroom that they are thankful for, but getting the kids outdoors will help them, too.

“We could see their anxiety increasing,” Riebe said.

She said mixing the options students with Buendorf’s class helps the options students learn positive leadership roles. Previously the students had a smaller fenced-in area with a small, wooden playset. It became a safety issue as the students grew up and as more students came into the program. Hudspith said it will be a good benefit for the district.

“The more opportunities we can provide, the better it makes the district,” Hudspith said.

He said one of the districts’ aims is to provide opportunity for achievement and this will help this subset of students. Other than using district labor and some safety funds, the playground is made possible by donations from community members. Hudspith said less than 5 percent of the project will use district funds. Just a few of the donors to the project came on Thursday to see the playground and meet some of the students.

Ken Leland, James Broberg, Mark Ciota, John Peterson and Irene Anderson came Thursday to Lakeview. Leland said he heard about the project through his son, Bill Leland. He then made some phone calls to find other people who might be interested in the project.

“I liked the idea — everyone should have a chance,” Leland said. “They’ll be able to adjust to society in a useful way.”

Anderson and Peterson got involved after they saw a presentation from Lakeview staff at their Lions Club meeting.

“We thought it was a great idea,” Anderson said. “We think it’s something we’ll continually contribute to.”

Peterson agreed and said the Lions Club support many different children’s programs. Staff at Lakeview reached out to local businesses, service clubs and people they knew to help with the project.

“This is a worthwhile thing for the community to get behind,” Peterson said.

The two programs have about 20 students and will both benefit from the alternate playground. Some benefits include safety, sensory opportunity, supervision needs, clearly defined play areas and fewer children. Buendorf said they have a lot of technology in their classroom that they are thankful for, but getting the kids outdoors will help them, too.