PTO and teachers target positive behavior outcomes with installing Peaceful Playgrounds

Peaceful Playgrounds behavior support

PTO and teachers target positive behavior outcomes with installing Peaceful Playgrounds.

Nearly two dozen parents, teachers and students arrived at Donaldson Way Elementary School early Saturday morning to help paint a new “peaceful playground” for students, a press release reported this week.

According to the statement issued by the school’s Parent Teacher Association, last spring the PTA purchased the Peaceful Playgrounds program, a $4,800 playground design kit that includes blueprints, activity guides and more than 100 age-appropriate game descriptions to give the school’s outdoor play space a makeover. The program’s multiple physical activities for kids during recess, lunch and physical education reduces student conflicts during outdoor time, adherants claim.

Led by second-grade teacher Clista Hammond and parent Bernie Zipay, the volunteers reportedly worked for hours in the hot summer sun to add bright primary colors to four-square courts, tetherball circles, and other game areas. The playground design is said to include stencils of letters and numbers for teaching moments during playtime. CSI Paints of Napa supplied discounted asphalt paint, according to the PTA.

Several current students helped paint the kindergarten yard, the statement said, as, bolstered by donuts, bagels and coffee for parents, families worked with brushes and rollers on hands and knees. While parents and teachers held their collective breaths, Donaldson Way students carefully painted bright colors, staying inside the lines, it was reported.

According to Heidi Zipay, Donaldson Way PTA president, the Peaceful Playgrounds installation is the culmination of a long effort by parents, teachers and administrative staff to have the school district repave crumbling asphalt throughout school grounds. Once the district agreed, “the PTA voted to purchase the Peaceful Playgrounds program on the recommendation of the school site council,” according to Heidi Zipay.

The school site council is a group of teachers, parents, classified employees and, at the high school level, students that works with the principal to develop, review and evaluate school improvement programs and school budgets.

The school’s playground blacktop was replaced the week of Aug. 7, in time for the start of classes Aug. 15, Hiedi Zipay wrote in an email. One other school in the district, Bel Aire Park Elementary, has the same program, according to the PTA president.

Donaldson Way Principal Marilyn Abelon picked up on the enthusiasm, thanked the PTA for its help and addressed the school community.

“It is our hope that the Donaldson Way Peaceful Playgrounds program will encourage positive behavior and personal responsibility,” said Abelon. “The carefully designed activities help to promote safety and conflict resolution. I am so proud of the Donaldson Way community. We cannot wait to get started and track our success rate with other elementary schools in our district.”

Since volunteers were not able to finish last week, a second painting party is scheduled for Saturday. Plans include a giant colorful map of the United States for use by upper grades. All members of the American Canyon community are encouraged to come out and help.

According to the press release, numerous studies show that physical activity increases a child’s ability to learn and retain information as well as help to diffuse difficult behaviors. Statistics from the Peaceful Playgrounds website ( show a 64 percent reduction in bullying, a 66 percent reduction in playground confrontations, and an 83 percent increase in children participating in games when the program is used.


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