January 2011

Douglas Dispatch – Douglas, AZ

Peaceful Playgrounds

Peaceful Playgrounds games

Wouldn’t be wonderful to look out over a playground where children were laughing and playing peacefully, and supervisors were observing this could do so without raising their voices, blowing their whistles, or increasing their blood pressure?

It’s almost more than one can imagine. Or is it?

That was exactly the situation at Loretto Catholic School, where students were enjoying a Peaceful Playgrounds Celebration marking the completion of a joint project made possible by a Diocese of Tucson Grant.

The Peaceful Playgrounds Project began on September 9, 2010 and was created to put an end to tattling or playground conflicts that takes the fun out of games.

According to Principal, Sister Mary Aloysius, O.C.D, “The Playground is an essential part of any school and every community. Children spend many hours of their school experience occupying themselves with what the playground has to offer. In fact, the whole neighborhood enjoys both its appearance and its usages. In short, school playgrounds often define the community’s initial impressions of a school. This joint project was designed to serve both the school and the Catholic Community of Douglas/Pirtleville.”

Officials point out that, beyond the classroom, the climate of the school as a whole is set by what happens on the playground. Unresolved playground conflicts soon spill over into the classroom.

A closer look at Loretto’s newly designed Peaceful Playground reveals concentric circles, rectangles, and various colored shapes, carefully spaced and painted on the blacktop. In addition to traditional games like hopscotch and four square, imagine an alphabet grid, a number grid, and a skipping track.

Bigger kids are involved in a variety of team sports like around the world and volley tennis as well as back-up and basketball. Evenly spaced groups of kids are cooperatively utilizing the blacktop area. “All made possible by the implementation of the Peaceful Playgrounds Program,” according to School Board President Dr. Tostado.

The success of the Peaceful Playgrounds Program depends of five key principles:

  1. Marking the playground with age appropriate games.
  2. Teaching students a consistent set of rules.
  3. Teaching students skills to solve conflicts
  4. Providing adequate equipment
  5. Consistent expectations

On Monday, January 31, the inauguration of the Peaceful Playground Program took place at Loretto’s with a brief and very enthusiastic ceremony with all the students showing a very happy feeling because of the new playgrounds they can enjoy now. Special guest, Douglas Mayor Dr. Michael Gomez congratulates Loretto’s students, administration, teachers and parents for this accomplishment which probes the effort Loretto School is doing to improve the quality of education by giving the students the opportunity of having fun besides the study.

Loretto School Principal, Sister Mary Aloysius, said “Thanks to a Diocesan Grant that Loretto received, the Peaceful Playgrounds Recess Program allowed Loretto to organize the playground area to reduce injuries, bullying and conflicts. We designed our own layout with permanent painted game markings that help make activity time a more positive experience. Game choices include individual, cooperative and competitive game choices. Markings address motor development skills, cognitive skills and social skill interaction.”

Mayor Gomez expressed his happiness for the new Playground and led the students in a pledge. “Together we also pledge to promote peace on the playground.”

Dr. Sergio Tostado, School Board President said “We everybody did a great job with the playgrounds, we think this is the best for our kids because now they can play wherever they choose to.”

Comments from Loretto Students agreed with the issue that is better now with the Peaceful Playgrounds saying “We like the new games; we like the way the games are set up, especially the Four Squares, the running tracks and the Hula-Hoop.”

Thanks to the grants and the cooperative effort, according to Loretto’s Principal, Sister Aloysius, the expenses for the project arose up to $5,500 including painting, rules distribution, games material and more.

With the inauguration of the Peaceful Playground, Loretto Catholic School started the Catholic Schools Week in which the staff and students, along with parents and special guests will present several activities to promote social interaction and to show the appreciation for everyone involved with the school.

To learn more about the program go to Loretto Catholic School in Douglas or visit the website at www.lorettoschool.org or visit the Peaceful Playgrounds website at www.peacefulplaygrounds.com