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Overcoming Obstacles to Get Kids Active

Chelsea Park Elementary School
Chelsea, Alabama

Chelsea Park Elementary School in Chelsea, Alabama knows well that school playgrounds aren’t merely places for students to let off steam or hang out during recess. They stimulate children’s minds and allow for their cognitive, physical and social development. Unfortunately, however, the school has a small gym and small outdoor playground that simply can’t accommodate all of its 885 K–5th graders during PE classes and recess time. The playground provides outdoor play for only a portion of the students, leaving the rest with no other option than to play on a dirt field with old equipment donated by parents and teachers. Administrators and staff wanted to better utilize the space they had, but they needed more equipment that would keep students active and engaged both indoors and out.

Thanks to a grant from Action for Healthy Kids, Chelsea Park was able to purchase obstacle course equipment during the 2018-2019 school year that teachers could use as a resource to boost kids’ physical activity during PE and recess.

Although PE teacher Kelly Scales had tried to create obstacle courses in the past, making do with whatever miscellaneous equipment was on hand, she had to constantly rearrange and fix the obstacles, putting a damper on the fun.

“With the new, true obstacle course equipment, it’s exciting to be able to set out the obstacles and allow students to be active without having to pause or stop the action to reset the equipment,” she said.

Scales said even older students began looking forward to going to PE because they loved the challenge of the obstacle courses. There was also an added benefit to keeping students actively engaged during PE classes: fewer discipline referrals.

The obstacle courses were such a hit that the school incorporated them into its annual, school-wide Field Day, which it held in April in conjunction with its Every Kid Healthy Week event celebration.

“Our students were so excited to be able to participate in a new activity during PE and during our Field Day,” said Principal Jennifer Galloway. “It was nice to see them encourage each other as they ventured through the obstacle courses.”

Thanks to the support of Action for Healthy Kids, Chelsea Park was able to overcome its lack of indoor and outdoor play space and provide students with rich opportunities to grow, learn, and develop.

This grant was made possible through funding from ALDI. Learn more about our grants⁠—sign up today.