(Seguin) -- A playground is no longer just a set of swings and a slide. At least, not for the Seguin ISD.
Pete Silvius, the director of whole child initiatives for the Seguin ISD, is among those walking alongside the district as it prepares to order a multi-million bond election. Included in that list of proposed projects would be $1.8 million for outdoor ADA accessible playscapes at each elementary school. If approved, the playscapes would include all new play areas as well as shade canopies.
Silvius says the playgrounds would be an illustration that the decisions before the school board
"are based on kids." He says it's a value statement that the district is creating necessary outdoor space or outdoor classrooms.
More importantly, he says it secures the district's vision that it's "all about the individual child" and that approval of these playscapes would be part of a priority shift currently taking place throughout the district with it's LiiNK Project (Let's Inspire Innovation N' Kids) and other outdoor opportunities designed to improve learning and behavior through increased physical activity.
"Certainly, there's more to this than just replacing playscapes. We have a new value to educating the whole child in Seguin and we know through research that that means that we have to provide children with outdoor time for their brains to have a reset to be able to achieve at the highest levels that we need them to achieve and so we need that playground, play area to be effective and efficient for the kids to get some of those needs met," said Silvius.
Silvius the community's investment in these playgrounds will keep the Seguin ISD ahead of the pack. Silvius says this type of creative and innovative outdoor space is where "the trend is going."
"The proposed playground improvements will redesign playgrounds with that kind of thing in mind so unstructured play, undefined play -- play that encourages climbing -- and multi sensory stimulation play that is accessible to all students and wheelchair bound students who need to have access to our play areas too and we can accomplish that through improved fall surfacing similar to what is being done in some of the city parks where we have this pour- -and-place ground that is soft and forgiving when you fall but firm enough that you can wheel a wheelchair over. We need spaces that are opportunities for multi-sensory applications, sand tables, water tables that type of thing," said Silvius.
Next year, additional Seguin ISD elementary schools will be implementing the LiiNK program. The program, currently at Jefferson and McQueeney Elementary Schools, offers recess for four 15 minute periods each day. District officials say despite the additional times for physical activity, classroom "rigor is not comprised with the program. Instead, they say it "actually increases."
According to LiiNK research, "children who engage in more physical activity/unstructured play and quality content daily will do better academically than children who are sedentary, less creative and active."
Consideration of this and other proposed projects are expected to be included in a bond issue order. That order will be voted on by members of the Seguin ISD Board of Trustees during a special meeting on Tuesday. That meeting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. in the Seguin ISD Board Room located inside of Oak Park Mall.