Students design, help build Wy’east Wellness Park

There’s a new playground for students and the community to use, at Wy’east Middle School.

It is called Wy’east Wellness Park.

Students from the Leaders For Tomorrow graduating class of 2013 remembered what it was like to transition from grade school to middle school, especially for kids with lots of energy and few options for expending it.

So, when Wy’east Vice Principal Patricia Cooper proposed a project to create the first phase in a three-phase park area to promote wellness for Wy’east students to the class, it was met with great enthusiasm.

“Helping kids stay active is important,” according to LFT’s Claire Rawson.

The playground is located just west of the school building, adjacent to the track.

“There are so many kids that need healthy ways to expend excess energy. This project will give them easy access — it’s really just the start.”

Working with Hood River County School District’s maintenance staff, students developed a plan and solicited donations of equipment, materials and labor.

Then, in a series of work parties over the summer and fall, the Leaders installed the first phase of a multi-year project to provide outdoor recreation opportunities for students and families in the mid-valley area.

The initial phase of the Wy’east Wellness Park was designed by Leaders For Tomorrow students with input from Wy’east Middle School staff.

“Our original plan was more than we could afford,” said Sophie Oswald, LFT project leader. “Once we had a better sense of our budget and time constraints, we pared it back to what we felt was most important and could be accomplished in the amount of time we were able to spend.”

Members of the community also helped out. Lane’s Excavation dug the site and students filled and leveled gravel from Hood River Sand and Gravel before the equipment was installed. Schlosser Machine built the horizontal ladder (a.k.a. monkey bars) and balance beam, Schuepbach Builders poured the footings and the students filled in with splinter-free wood fiber, called SoftFall.

Once the equipment was painted, all that was left to do was install the sign. Cooper and Wy’east Principal Catherine Dalbey are already preparing for the next phase of construction. “We are super happy! We are already planning phase 2,” said Cooper. “Kids are using it and enjoying every minute!”

Leaders For Tomorrow is a two-year program that empowers local high school students to take an active role in shaping the future of their community. Second-year students complete a Service Learning project of their own design and receive .5 credit.

For more information about how you can support Leaders for Tomorrow, contact Kristin Reese at 541-806-0278 or LFT is a program of The Next Door.

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