News & Events
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Nearly $2 Million in Outdoor Play Grants
RESTON, VA, August 13, 2010 -- Nearly $2 million in grants were awarded today to 371 Head Start Centers across the country to improve their outdoor play spaces by Head Start Body Start National Center for Physical Development and Outdoor Play (HSBS). Each Head Start Center had the option to select from a number of value added packages offered by 31 elite vendors (Preferred Providers) who were selected by a team of evaluators for the packages' developmental appropriateness, safety and both play and monetary value.
HSBS, a key component of the Surgeon General's Childhood Overweight and Obesity Prevention Initiative, was created two years ago with a $12 million grant from the federal Administration for Children and Families (ACF) to help increase a broad range of services aimed at increasing physical activity, outdoor play, and healthy eating for the nation's 1,055,671 Head Start children, their families and staff. Administrators of the grant are the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) and the American Association for Physical Activity and Recreation (AAPAR), associations of the American Alliance for Health, Physical Education, Recreation and Dance (AAHPERD).
The Center is helping Head Start Centers evaluate their play spaces and educate children and their families about the value of physical activity and healthy eating. An underlying philosophy is that all Head Start Centers can integrate developmentally appropriate physical activity and play into their daily routines regardless of their physical setting/space. The Center will assist Head Start programs in creating healthy learning environments, both in and outside the classroom, through structured and unstructured physical activity that leads to the physical, cognitive, social and emotional development of young children.
"Outdoor play is associated with greater amounts of physical activity in children. Research has shown that early opportunities for physical play have a long lasting influence throughout childhood, especially when those opportunities continue to be made available" said Center Director Kwame M. Brown, Ph.D. "Unfortunately children today spend less time playing outdoors than any previous generation, and many children don't move or play outside because no one helped them develop a relationship with movement and the outdoors at a young age" added Brown. "We want to help the Head Start staff discover the benefits of outdoor play for all ages and learn about the features of high quality outdoor play spaces that promote movement opportunities for children of all ability levels."
To help the recipients plan their outdoor play space improvements, HSBS had a panel of early childhood movement professionals vet a Preferred Provider List comprising playground and play space companies, equipment manufacturers, and other creators of playground and play space-related resources offering discounts and value-added packages on safe and developmentally appropriate products. The list includes Apollo Sunguard Systems Inc., Big Toys, Inc., Childforms, Complete Playgrounds Inc., Early Childhood SPARK, Everlast Climbing Industries, Flaghouse, GameTime, Kids Play Inc., Kompan, Inc., Krauss Craft, Inc., LandCurrent, Little Tikes (Play Power LT Farmington, Inc.),Miracle Recreation Equipment Company, Nasco, Natural Playgrounds Company, Nature Explore/ Dimensions Educational Research Foundation, Peaceful Playgrounds, Inc., Planet Earth Playscapes, Inc., Play With a Purpose, Play & Park Structures, Play Mart Inc., Playworld Systems, Inc., Safeplay Systems, Socci Sport LLC, The Adventurous Child Inc., TotTurf by Robertson Industries, Inc., UltiPlay Parks & Playgrounds, Inc., UltraPlay Systems, US Games, and US Playstructures Incorporated.
In addition to the play space improvement, each award-winning Head Start Center will have targeted training, technical assistance and the expertise of a physical activity consultant. Each center will also be provided with access to online courses, webinars and resource materials.
Paula Keyes Kun