News / The Serious Business of Play

2323 E. 12th St. ∙ The Dalles, Oregon
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Press Release March 16, 2018 Columbia Lutheran School 2323 East 12th Street, The Dalles. 541–298–8385 Principal Jesse Jacobsen RE: Playground expansion for school and neighborhood.

The Serious Business of Play “Can we go outside to play?” may sound like a simple question from a child. But, as Columbia Lutheran School (CLS) knows, “play” is a serious business, one that is vital to a child’s development. Time spent on a playground might seem like just fun and games, but most childhood experts agree that outdoor play, recess, and unstructured activities are essential to a child’s physical and mental well-being.

Columbia, along with Bethany Lutheran Church, where the school is located at 2323 E. 12th St., are making plans to continue to meet this need for the community’s youth. As the number of students at the school has grown, a larger safe outdoor playspace is needed. In addition to school use, Bethany’s space has also served neighborhood families over the years. A wide age range of visitors regularly come to play basketball, swing and climb, throw a ball for their dogs, or even hold an Easter egg hunt. CLS school board member Larry Bennett heartily endorses the use of the playground by local families: “It’s a long way to walk to other parks or playgrounds. We are happy to share the space. It makes me smile to see people enjoying the playground.”

An upcoming project will more than quadruple the size of the fenced playspace. The new, larger fenced area will protect children from nearby busy streets and encourage group sports like soccer and baseball. Parents of younger children will appreciate the security of a smaller, gated and fenced play area. Those who want quiet for reading, daydreaming, or art will also find a place in the plan. The school has tapped into the imagination and vision of its students, who have provided input on design and are ready to help on upcoming work days.

The project, funded by grants from the Evangelical Lutheran Synod and Thrivent Financial, cannot be accomplished without many hours of volunteer labor. Herb Klaviter, a school board member comments, “We will have many smaller jobs organized, ready for volunteers to plug into the project. We hope to see our neighbors and the community at the work days. Come for just an hour if you can.” The first work day is Saturday, April 7, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., with lunch provided. The school is also looking for businesses who may have structures or pieces like large beams, cement culvert pipes, or wooden spools that can be integrated into the playground. Contact the school office at 541–298–8385 with any questions. CLS wants the answer to the question, “Can we go outside to play?” to be a resounding “Yes!”

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