About the Lower School Playground (2015)

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About the Playground
The Environmental Charter School Lower School is seeking support to design and build a playground, educational and native gardens, and outdoor gathering spaces that are reflective of the innovative and place based authentic experiences that happen in our classrooms each and every day.

Currently, our students and educators make creative use of our black top parking lot and mulched area to play. However, we hope to maximize our opportunities to explore the outdoors by developing 4 zones that each serve a purpose and provide space for multiple classes to use at the same time.

Our initial focus will be on the play space itself, with areas to socialize, climb, run, jump, take risks, and create in recognition that each student plays differently during unstructured time. To do this, we not only need to purchase equipment, but make changes to the grounds in order to remedy water and mud issues.

As our process continues, we hope to expand upon our well established Edible Schoolyard program by creating a covered area for classes to learn and explore, a native fruit orchard, and several areas of the landscape focused on natural systems, pollinators, and even reflection.

We hope you will help support this exciting initiative and that our ECS playground and landscape can be used by generations to come thanks to the generous donations of people like you.
–Shannon Merenstein, ECS Design and Arts Coach

A Treehouse Tribute
The year ECS was born, it opened its doors to a great many enthusiastic and adventurous families… families that were dedicated to the precepts of environmental education and to the spirit of what ECS promised to become to Pittsburgh. Among those families was Amy Ambrusko and her children, Kate and Peter. Kate joined ECS as a forever smiling and joyful first grader in Ms. Hoak’s class. Peter came every afternoon with Amy to pick Kate up after school, making friends of his own, and he looked forward to beginning kindergarten with his new buddies the following year.

Very sadly, Amy and our ECS family lost Kate and Peter later that school year in a car accident. The treehouse that will be incorporated into the playground has been funded by the Kate and Peter Playground Memorial Fund, courtesy of many generous donors. It will be a beautiful reminder of the lasting mark that the Ambrusko family made on ECS. Your support of the playground will provide a lasting space for all ECS children to enjoy, and it memorializes two beautiful children that were a part of our founding community.

ECS Nurses Endorse Enhanced Playground
Outdoor play is a fun activity that all children greatly enjoy. Children love to explore, discover, play, run, sing, yell, and create outside. An opportunity to release their physical energy also benefits their cognitive and learning abilities and can improve their academic performance. We, the ECS nurses, see how desperately our school needs a large, safe playground, and how the lack of a dedicated play area is affecting our kids. Unfortunately, the outdoor space at our Lower school is very limited, with little opportunity to explore and play. We often see kids with minor injuries from playing on concrete, climbing bushes or just playing in a crowded area. As a school nurse and a mother of an ECS student, I would like to ask all ECS parents to support our Lower School playground project. I am convinced that our kids will greatly appreciate a safe outdoor playground!
–Nurse Sandryhaila

A Peek at the Future Lower School Playground
Take a look at the playground schematic (5.8 MB pdf) to see what phase 1 of the playground project will include. Plans may change before the final playground is built.