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 Joy of Play: First 5 QPI Funds Give Playgrounds a Boost

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Any time a new playground opens is sure to bring joy to children and grown-ups alike.

Thanks to special funds available to new QPI sites this year to improve learning and development environments, there was an abundance of joy on a bright Friday morning as La Presa Elementary's preschool, a QPI site in Spring Valley, celebrated the re-opening of its playground. There were squeals, happy screams, laughter, and serious giggles as about two dozen preschoolers raced out to the new playground after a ribbon-cutting ceremony April 15.

"What a great effect the San Diego County Office of Education, Quality Preschool

Initiative, and First 5 San Diego have had on our program," said Rita Schwartz, Preschool Supervising Director for La Mesa-Spring Valley School District. "They made our dreams come true." 

This is La Mesa-Spring Valley's first year in the Quality Preschool Initiative, and six of La Mesa-Spring Valley's preschools received playground upgrades. The revamped playgrounds provide a great improvement to the outdoor learning environment for preschoolers.

At La Presa Elementary's preschool, the revamp included the removal of decades-old equipment, which offered limited skill development, and the creation of a modern play area that provides more activity and addresses more large-motor skills, Schwartz said. The playground has something for everyone. Two new play structures include features such as a climbing wall, stairs, music, sounds, slides, and other sensory elements. Preschooler Noah said his favorite is the stairs.

"These beautiful new playgrounds are inviting," Schwartz said. "They encourage the children to move and have fun at the same time."

Playgrounds have physical benefits, such as enabling children to practice jumping, climbing, balancing, and running, and they also have social benefits, like teaching children to take turns and to use self-control while waiting for their turn, and they provide opportunities for modeling skills, having conversations, and increasing language development.

"Inside and outside of the classroom, we want to nurture healthy and happy children who will become healthy and happy adults," Schwartz said. "Play is important to the social and physical development of children."


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