EOCF Received a $10,000 Grant to Complete a Playground for Vulnerable Young Children

Washougal WA – Washougal preschool children participating in programs at Hathaway Elementary School now have age-appropriate playground components to play on.  The project was led by Educational Opportunities for Children & Families (EOCF) who operates their state-funded early learning programs from a building alongside the Hathaway Elementary preschool.

On January 28, 2016 EOCF staff and teachers met with Hathaway principal David Tudor and district staff members Lisa Young, Early Learning Technician and Allan Fleck, former Special Services Director to discuss the playground install and get the ball rolling.  Joe Steinbrenner, WSD Facilities Director later coordinated with Joshuah Kleiva, CPSI, EOCF Facilities and Maintenance Supervisor, to implement the project timeline.

According to Kleiva, the project has been in the works for some time.  “It started a couple years ago with the concern that children ages 2-5 did not have age-appropriate playground equipment available to them.” Once EOCF extended their contract with WSD, they moved forward to make the improvements. The work was completed Friday, August 12 in time to welcome students back to school in early September.

“We are excited that the preschool children now have this new playground area,” Kleiva said. The approximately $25k playground was made possible through a gift from the EOCF Board of Directors; a $10,000 grant from the Nike Community Impact Fund of the Oregon Community Foundation; a donation from local Keller Williams broker Shannon Saylor and work by the EOCF facilities department.

All the new equipment is ASTM and Consumer Product Safety Commissions approved for children ages 2-5. The existing school district play equipment is designed for children from five to 12 years old.

“One of the biggest differences for play equipment for smaller children is the requirement on how far they can safely fall,” said Kleiva.  “All of the new equipment has lower set levels. The new equipment also allows children to use both hands and feet as they enter and exit because their upper bodies are not as strong as older children.”

The new equipment features a Climb and Discovery Cave that is equipped with rock wall holds for kids to use to climb over and the inside is covered with integrated wall hieroglyphics of interesting animals and creatures.  The Swift Twist is a spinner for kids to spin around on and the Step Pods are for bouncing.

“I think kids will really like the commercial playhouse too,” said Kleiva.  “It matches the school exterior which is cool. It is a good quality and made out of composite.”  The playhouse is designed to be on a school playground and can be seen into at all angles.  There is also a play kitchen inside.

In addition, EOCF installed certified playground chips to increase fall zone safety.  According to Kleiva, beyond the safety aspect it is important for these young children to have apparatus that helps them develop balance and climbing skills.  Early learning outdoor curriculum focuses on gross motor skill development as well as free play. To top it all off, the WSD extended the fenced area to provide a grass area for play.  The area is secured with fencing during school hours but is open to the community for their use during the weekends.

EOCF serves entire families through play-based early learning programs that focus on the whole child, connect families to community resources and provide opportunities for family involvement in their programs. Their services are free to those who qualify.  EOCF has been helping families throughout the state of Washington for almost 50 years.  EOCF has partnered with Hathaway and Washougal School District nearly seven years, ever since Hathaway’s former (now retired) Principal Laura Bolt advocated to extend a helping hand to EOCF after an unfortunate accident which displaced children and families in their location at the time.

EOCF is grateful for the generous support of Nike and the Oregon Community Foundation for making this project completion possible so that the EOCF and Hathaway preschool children and the Washougal community can enjoy a fun, safe outdoor learning environment.