By Chris Day
STILLWATER, Okla. —
Children climbed webs, walked among tree tops and crawled through fallen logs Wednesday as the city of Stillwater officially opened the new playground at Couch Park.
OK, the webs were ropes and the tree tops and logs were plastic, but it’s not your traditional park playground with slides, swings and see-saws.
“Their eyes lit up when they saw this,” The Renaissance Schools of Stillwater owner Lori Crosby said. Approximately 60 Renaissance Schools students were the invited guests at Wednesday’s grand opening. All the new equipment was a hit.
The playground is divided into three areas. An area filled with smaller equipment and defined by synthetic turf is designed for children age 5 and under.
The area filled with slides, climbing surfaces and much more is defined by mulch. It is appropriate for children ages 5 to 12. There is an area for swings which is defined by rubber from recycled tires, Stillwater Parks and Recreation Director Jim Scott said.
“We are trying three different surfaces to see how those work,” Scott said.
The age-appropriate areas are essential, Crosby said. Younger children have a place to play. “They don’t have to worry about being trampled by the bigger kids,” she said.
The new playground cost $115,000, he said. The Parks and Recreation Department budget includes money for playground renovations in other Stillwater parks.
Stillwater Mayor John Bartley and Scott cut a red ribbon to officially open the playground. The students raced through the ribbon to put the playground equipment to the test.
The playground opening reminded Bartley of his youth when he was one of the first students in a new school building.
“I remember when I was in the third grade. My school actually opened a brand new building. ... I remember the playground at my elementary school. ... I just remember how cool parks are and how cool playgrounds are. Playgrounds are where you learn to not only play, but how to work with each other and have fun with each other,” Bartley said.
The Couch Park playground offers another advantage — exercise, Crosby said.
The American Heart Association recommends children participate in at least 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity daily.
The playground will help children get enough exercise, Crosby said.