The new playground at Grace Christian School in Bowie is bigger and has more toys for the students to climb and play on, but if you ask first-grader Earl Gilliam, 7, the best part is the new slide.
“It is fun because when you go down it twists at the bottom,” said Earl of Bowie before heading back for another turn.
Earl and the students at Grace Christian School, a private school serving kindergarten through eighth grade, have been enjoying a new playground, opened about a month ago, after staff and parents spent three years planning and raising money for the $100,000 structure, said Chuck Scarlata, Grace Christian School’s vice principal.
The school decided it wanted a new playground because the older structure was wearing down and there were safety concerns, Scarlata said.
Laura Lee Ritter, the Grace Christian School’s admissions director, said the older playground was about 15 years old.
“There’s high stuff and low stuff, there’s like other things you can climb and go up and down,” said Jeremiah Gibbs, 11, of Bowie. “It feels like a rush when you came back inside and you are ready to have more fun.”
Scarlata said the new playground has given students more to do outside on top of play basketball and Gaga ball — an Israeli version of dodgeball — and that could help with their studies.
As the playground hasn’t been active for more than a month, Scarlata said data isn’t available now, but when testing comes around, he said he is hopeful that students will improve with the new exercise options.
“There are so many empirical studies about the connection between the mind and the body,” Scarlata said. “Play really increases cognition. When the kids are out there, using the equipment ... there are a lot of studies that have shown it increases learning.”