The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

November 25, 2013

NECP adds 'active play structures' to grounds


TARBORO — New playground equipment awaited students at North East Carolina Prep School (NECP) today.

One “active play structure” is next to the charter school’s elementary school building, while another, smaller structure is next to the kindergarten building.

“It’s just another way for us to access physical activity for our students in a fun environment,” said NECP Executive Director John Westberg.

NECP’s Director of Communications Diane LeFiles said the active play structures would give the students “another dimension” to their recess. She said the students normally play games such as touch football, Frisbee, hula-hoop or jump rope during recess.

Representatives from Playgrounds of the Carolinas installed the playground equipment on Friday and Saturday. NECP used some left over funds from Utah-Based HighMark School Development for the school’s recent construction project to finance the playground equipment, said NECP’s Director of Student Support Services Cheryl Iannucci. Each active play structure had a cost of about $10,000.

“It enhances the PE (physical education) curriculum and enhances the physical development of the children,” said Iannucci. She said she hopes the structures will encourage students who aren’t “athletically inclined” to become physically active.

“This will provide them another outlet to be physically active and hopefully combat the obesity issues,” Iannucci said.

The students might not be able to access all the components of the active play structures at first; the structures are designed to build up the students’ physical abilities, Iannucci said.

“As the year progresses and they continue to climb and play on it, they’ll be able to develop those skills and use every component on it,” she said.

Iannucci gave an overview of some of the components of the active play structures – climbing structures resembling “monkey bars” with uneven bars that require some planning to navigate, a “stand and spin” or “sit and spin” structure accessible to handicapped children that helps improve children’s balance and coordination, and a slide that requires some climbing to reach. Another component of the structure that is handicap-accessible involves moving a knob through a maze.

With the growing number of students at NECP, about 900 this year, Iannucci said she would like to raise some funds to expand both active play structures to give more students access to the equipment.