Studies confirm that when children lack unstructured play, it often increases their level of anxiety, depression, disengaged behavior and negatively affects their self-esteem. The majority of children enrolled in Rainbow’s programs have very little home access to outdoor play areas due to limited availability and safety concerns with playgrounds in their impoverished neighborhoods. Incorporating structured as well as free play outdoor activities in a safe setting is a critical part of Rainbow’s curriculum for our children. However, the Center’s previously existing outdoor equipment did not meet the MA Department of Early Education and Care (EEC) standards, and required complete renovation.
Rainbow met the MA Early Education Out of School Time (EEOST) grant criteria and applied to the EEOST Capital Fund for financial support to fund the restoration of its outdoor play space. The Center was one of six sites to receive funding throughout MA, in the second EEOST funding round. We were awarded $200,000 which served as the cornerstone to Rainbow’s Capital Campaign for the project.
Grant funding from Foundations, MA Early Education Out of School Time (EEOST), donations from Rainbow’s Board Members and individual donors allowed this new play space to become a reality. Each day children are running, climbing, jumping, smiling, laughing and solidifying relationships. Rainbow’s play space has been designed and built with our children in mind to facilitate developing their strength, social development and confidence.
The Center is grateful to all involved with the Center’s Outdoor Play Space Restoration Capital Project for their financial support and commitment to Rainbow’s children to benefit from a physical space which will have a positive impact on each of them.
The Center’s ADA Outdoor Play Space and Natural Classroom was completed in the summer of 2017 and the Grand Opening was held on September 8, 2017. Local officials attended the Grand Opening Ceremony and it was a front cover featured story in the Worcester Telegram and Gazette the following day.
RAINBOW’S NEW PLAY SPACE NOW FEATURES
- Multiple choices for children to engage in gross and fine motor activities
- Various climbers, balance and overhead components
- Rock blocks tunnel and rock wall
- Audible music panels
- A tricycle path and large sandbox
- An age appropriate obstacle course
- Enhanced outdoor garden area
- Safe rubber and turf surfaces
- Ample shade