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Penquis Head Start Centers Receive Grants to Enhance Outdoor Play

June 29, 2012

Bangor, ME- Penquis Child Development is celebrating the completion of playground improvements at seven of their Head Start locations. Head Start Body Start National Center for Physical Development and Outdoor Play awarded grants to seven Penquis Child Development Centers. Three of the Head Start Centers are located in the Bangor area and the others are located in Old Town, Guilford (SAD#4/Penquis Pre-K), Newport and Newburgh. Each center received $5,000 to enhance their outdoor play spaces.

A few of the items purchased for the outdoor play space at Eastern Maine Community College emcc__palyground_equipment.jpginclude binoculars, bird feeders, Critter Cabins, nature activity kits, and a classroom thermometer. These items enhance opportunities for children to interact with nature while experiencing a sense of adventure as they explore and learn more about the mini habitat right on their own playground.

The Guilford SAD #4/Penquis Pre K purchased a double-sided Paint Station that provides children opportunities for creative expression and gross and fine motor experiences. The Paint Station is accessible to children at various physical and developmental levels, and provides children with sensory experiences. Another feature that is enhancing the sensory environment of the play space in Guilford is the Maine Buoy Bell wind chimes. These chimes are hand-crafted out of metal and mimic the sounds of the various buoys in Maine waters.

According to Penquis Child Development Director Jean Bridges, “These grants have enabled each of the Centers to add surface space to their playgrounds.” The center on Davis Road in Bangor added a new paved pathway, offering ADA accessibility and allowing children to play with riding toys, tricycles, scooter boards and push toys. “Accessibility and inclusive play is important and careful thought was given to make the playgrounds both safe and fun for all children,” added Bridges.

Other purchases include snowshoes that provide physical activity for children throughout the long, Maine winters. Many of the locations added a lifted space, "a stage", for imaginative play and cedar balance beams, river rocks and tree slices, otherwise known as tree cookies, providing new opportunities for children to jump, skip and balance their bodies, while still preserving the natural appearance. “We are really excited about the new sensory materials like the musical chimed fences and tongue drums,” said Bridges.

In addition to the play space improvement, each award-winning Head Start Center will have access to online courses, webinars and resource materials. The Head Start Body Start National Center for Physical Development and Outdoor Play was created through a federal grant to the National Association for Sport and Physical Education (NASPE) and the American Association for Physical Activity and Recreation (AAPAR) from the Office of Head Start.

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