New Hayden school playground gets rave reviews |

New Hayden school playground gets rave reviews

Hayden Valley Elementary School students are getting a lot of use out of the new playground equipment that was purchased primarily using grants.

— Children are safer and exercising a bit more at Hayden Valley Elementary School with the addition of new playground equipment.

Principal Rhonda Sweetser said the project would not have been possible without nearly $265,000 in grants the school received.

The Colorado Health Foundation gave $195,150 to the project. The foundation aims to make Colorado the healthiest state in the country and in 2011 awarded nearly $81 million in grants and contributions to improve health and health care in Colorado. Routt County organizations received $644,885 in grants from the foundation in 2011.

The Babson Carpenter Foundation, established by Ferry Carpenter and Henry Babson, contributed $54,302.

LiveWell Northwest Colorado gave $15,000, and LiveWell community coordinator Barb Parnell was instrumental in securing the other grants, Sweetser said.

"Without that we never would have been able to do it," she said.

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The Hayden School District had to contribute only about $5,000 to the $270,000 project that was designed and supplied by All Around Recreation, which worked with local contractors to construct it.

The playground was getting great reviews from students Friday, especially when they thought about the aging equipment that was replaced.

"It was really boring," fifth-grader Riley Owens said.

The students also appreciated that the new playground is designed to be safe. Fifth-grader Morgan Bennett knows how important safety is. She knocked out her front permanent teeth in third grade after hitting the old slide with her face.

"I was running and I slipped," Morgan said.

With the grant money, the school also was able to replace the aging blacktop that was cracking and presented safety concerns. The blacktop was extended and new basketball hoops were put in. The kindergartners also got their own new playground right outside their classrooms. The old merry-go-round just seemed to make kids feel sick, so it was removed, Sweetser said.

While increasing safety was the biggest priority, increasing the physical activity level of students also was important, Sweetser said. The students did not often play on the old playground and their activity level was low, she said.

Sweetser said she has noticed an increase in the students' physical activity since the new playground was put in. There are many more options of things for students to do.

"It's really hard not to find them doing something," Sweetser said.

To reach Matt Stensland, call 970-871-4247 or email