Retiring Teacher Leaves Behind the Gift of Play

A retiring high school science teacher wanted to leave behind a gift for four elementary schools in the district. After much searching it was decided that the Peaceful Playgrounds Program "fit the bill" not only in cost but need as well. Superintendent Linda Hicks told the elementary principals to “dream big” and come up with something special.

And that they did! “We said what could we get that would be good for all four schools and it was Mr. (Brian) Galdes at Fisher who came across the Peaceful Playground, so we started pulling it together,” said Syndee Malek, principal at Vandenberg.

Peaceful Playgrounds provides schools with a kit for making blacktop school yards into productive play areas during recess. The kit contains stencils for game layouts; rules for dozens of games as traditional as four square and hopscotch and as new as world geography; all the balls, hoops, beanbags and other elements to play the games; and even a conflict resolution guide.

“The concept is for peaceful playgrounds,” said Malek. “If the kids are busy, they have things to do, they understand the games, they're playing by the rules, you're going to have less behavior problems on the playground. In three weeks with just the pieces we have painted, we've seen a lot of that decline.”

More on Gift of Play.

Revised from: By Hugh Gallagher • OBSERVER STAFF WRITER • May 31, 2009