ECC prepping new outdoor classroom

Published 1:12 pm Wednesday, August 1, 2012



SOUTH POINT — Thanks to community support, pre-schoolers at the Early Childhood Center in South Point will have a new place to play.

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This is the first major outdoor renovation since the center was built in 1994, said ECC director Sue Vanderhoof.

The renovation, a work in progress, Vanderhoof said, included turning the small playground area adjacent to the parking lot into an outdoor classroom.

“The plan is not to use it as what you would traditionally think of as recess,” Vanderhoof said. “It’s an extension of the classroom.”

Vanderhoof said the play area will give children the opportunity to learn about science and nature in a variety of ways.

To fund the project, the Lawrence County Board of Developmental Disabilities donated $3,000 from the money it raised during DD Awareness Month activities in March, like the 5K run, Chili Fest and the all-star basketball games. WSAZ Children’s Charities also donated $500.

The playground, which was previously covered in wood mulch, is now covered in five tons of recycled, rubberized mulch. The rubberized mulch is softer and will not rot and disintegrate like the wood mulch, which had to be frequently replaced, Vanderhoof said.

“I can’t wait to see the kids out there getting a feel for it,” Vanderhoof said.

A new vinyl fence replaced the former, which was wood and metal.

New to the play area is an in-ground sandbox, a portable nature habitat and an activity table.

The activity table, Vanderhoof said, has cubbyholes where children can collect and keep their nature findings, like rocks, leaves and even bugs. The nature habitat will be a space to grow living plants and support caterpillars as they transform into butterflies.

Two new storage units were also added to the area to house books, magnifying glasses and other helpful tools.

Some original play equipment was left behind, Vanderhoof said, and is in the process of being restored, such as the driving station.

The station, with its three plastic steering wheels, has a wooden base that will be pressure washed. Vanderhoof said the piece is a favorite among the children.

Wooden bench seats on the picnic tables were replaced and a wooden gas fill up station will be touched up.

Vanderhoof said the ECC will continue to have fundraisers to add more equipment to the play area.