State grant boosts Sopris Elementary playground fix |

State grant boosts Sopris Elementary playground fix

Sopris Elementary School student Jahirie Labare shows off the after effects of a romp on the school's playground last spring. A Great Outdoors Colorado grant will help the school design a new playground and fix drainage problems.
Contributed photo |

The Great Outdoors Colorado Board has awarded a $7,000 School Play Yard Initiative grant to Sopris Elementary School in Glenwood Springs.

Sopris was one of five Colorado schools awarded funding for professional design services. The grant will help guide a student-led design process before the school reapplies for construction money in April, according to a GOCO news release.

The GOCO grant will also help Sopris improve handicap and community access to the playground, while also addressing major drainage issues. Half of the playground is unusable and closed to students every spring because of standing water, ice and mud.

In addition, the School Play Yard Initiative now partners schools with Colorado Parks & Wildlife’s Schools and Outdoor Learning Environment (SOLE) program, providing field trips, family nature nights and outdoor education training for teachers.

GOCO notes that Sopris Elementary has a highly diverse student body of more than 600 students. Nearly half of students are English Language Learners, and 45 percent qualify for the free and reduced lunch rate.

The student task force has already volunteered hundreds of hours to the playground project, administering a survey among students and presenting their project to community groups and to City Council.

The task force also participated in community outreach to get feedback to the preliminary playground designs.

To date, GOCO has invested $9.6 million in Garfield County, preserving more than 2,000 acres of land. Funding has supported the bike park and community garden in Carbondale, Parachute’s new community park, and Rifle Gap State Park.

Garfield County was also recently named a GOCO Inspire community and will be part of a $25 million initiative to get kids outside.

GOCO derives its funding from a portion of Colorado Lottery proceeds and uses it to help preserve and enhance the state’s parks, trails, wildlife, rivers and open spaces.

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