Volunteers paint Cecil Floyd playground blacktop to improve recess options

Volunteers from St. Paul's United Methodist Church work last week to repaint the blacktop at the Cecil Floyd Elementary School playground. Courtesy | Nancy Hampton

The playground at Cecil Floyd Elementary School has a fresh makeover thanks to volunteers from St. Paul's United Methodist Church, the school's faith-based Bright Futures partner.

About 30 to 35 volunteers last week repainted the designs on the playground blacktop, donating their labor and equipment while the school supplied the paint, said Nancy Hampton, director of missions and hospitality for St. Paul's.

"We had fun doing it, and then they sent us some pictures" of children using the newly painted playground on the final day of summer school, she said. "Just to see the joy on the faces of the students was exciting."

Stephanie Reither, a kindergarten teacher at Cecil Floyd, said the blacktop repainting was a good option to freshen up the playground because new equipment can be cost-prohibitive and expensive. More than 100 kindergartners use the playground during their recess time, she said.

"With the number of kids on the playground, there weren't enough activities for them to do," she said. "This is the most cost-effective way to use the space."

To prepare for the painting project, Reither, also a member of St. Paul's, printed off ideas of children's activities from social media sites such as Facebook and Pinterest. She helped to provide volunteers with stencils and guidance for the playground designs.

When the group was finished, the blacktop had new hopscotch and four-square lines, a giant caterpillar on whose lengthy body is printed each letter of the alphabet, a flower with numerals on its leaves, and a large race track. There is also a "Wheel of Choices" circle that aligns with the school's initiatives to promote positive behavior among students.

"Really, the whole school is going to benefit from it," she said.

Reither said recess for her kindergartners should be more manageable when they return to school this fall. With more options and activities from which to choose, there could be less risk of conflict among her pupils and more learning opportunities during playtime. Younger pupils also generally need more structured playtime than older students who can organize their own activities, she said.

"At recess duty, you see the importance of play and cooperating with each other," she said. "Social skills are needed so badly in this world. (With the new blacktop paintings), they have other choices to change activities."

Emily Younker is the assistant metro editor at the Joplin Globe. Contact: eyounker AT joplinglobe DOT com.