Creating an Outdoor Space to “Court” Students
North Shore Elementary School
St. Petersburg, Florida
With a history of minimal time for recess and limited recess equipment, teachers at North Shore Elementary School in St. Petersburg, FL, were struggling with engaging children in healthy outdoor activities. A teacher survey indicated they perceived one of the greatest barriers to outdoor recess as inadequate supplies and engagement opportunities. While the school had the space (an open courtyard that houses the school garden and informal activities), the teachers needed information and inspiration on how to utilize it for their students to unwind and explore.
To address this need, the North Shore Elementary School Health Team met and created a list of mobile play equipment that could be utilized by students for informal play in the garden and courtyard. The team then used this list to survey the teachers to determine what equipment they preferred to be purchased from the list. With the help of a Parents for Healthy Kids grant from Action for Health Kids, equipment, including balls and jump ropes, was purchased and stored outside to keep kids entertained. The School Health Team also used Parents for Healthy Kids Grant funds to purchase a wheelbarrow to use in the school garden.
Linda Lee Gates, 3rd grade parent at North Shore Elementary said, “The grant helped provide a great boost to not only the children’s activity levels outdoors, but also their access to our learning gardens.” Katice Helinski, Vice President of Education for the North Shore PTA, said, “The courtyard is the heart of our school. We use it for play, gardening, family social gatherings and casual lunches. The Parents for Healthy Kids Grant has given us an opportunity to enhance all these activities, building the students’ and families’ interest in being active outdoors in a variety of ways.”
As a result of the grant, North Shore Elementary School has increased the number of students participating in physical activity as well as the average number of daily physical activity minutes for each student. Additionally, the grant has inspired the school to implement monthly garden workdays on Saturday mornings. Whether they’re weeding, planting, painting rocks, or building planters and projects, they’re always getting kids and parents moving.
This grant was made possible with funding from ALDI.