Great Outdoors Colorado (GOCO) School Playground Grant

6 Schools Across Colorado

Current Status: Planning Phase Complete

More kid-designed, nature-based playgrounds will spring up at six Colorado public schools thanks to a GOCO grant program that helps create play areas that are more physically active and inspire more outdoor learning. Six schools initially received funds from GOCO in the Fall of 2014 to work with PLOT to create a master plan for their school yards.

Westgate Community School, Thornton, Adams County

Students at Westgate have no playground, just an open field with a chicken coop and a repainted parking lot on their 20-acre campus. That will change with this project. Their new play yard, inspired to resemble an Ewok Village, will include an eco-play zone that encourages physical activity and exploration, an outdoor classroom, social areas, play structures, climbing and sitting boulders and many new trees.

Westgate Elementary School, Lakewood, Jefferson County

The project will replace the school’s deteriorating play yard, which was last improved in 1988, with new play equipment for the school playground and adjoining Westgate Neighborhood Park. The school will add an outdoor classroom, a rain garden and butterfly garden, a shade structure and raised planting beds for a vegetable garden. Existing concrete will be replaced by a vegetated swale and an expanded play area will be filled with nature-inspired play equipment including climbing rocks and natural material balance beams.

West Park Elementary School, Leadville, Lake County

The project will replace an aging dirt and pea gravel play area that is prone to flooding, which limits the school children’s physical activity and play area. The new play area will feature an outdoor classroom, community garden planters, educational bioswale with native plants, a walking path and sledding hill, and new nature-inspired play equipment like a climbing boulder. Bioswales are landscape elements designed to remove silt and pollution from surface runoff water while also providing stormwater detention and snow melt areas.

Limon Public School, Limon, Lincoln County

Limon K-12 is getting a new school building thanks to the state BEST program, which receives some of its funding from the Colorado Lottery, which also funds GOCO. When the school construction budget had to drastically cut funds for the playground, Limon turned to GOCO. The new playground will incorporate traditional play areas with an outdoor classroom, a “learning prairie” and a boulder garden.

Taylor Elementary School, Palisade, Mesa County

Palisade’s only elementary school will replace 35-year-old steel play equipment and install an outdoor classroom, climbing boulders, new play equipment, native plant and butterfly learning gardens, a measured path and exercise areas as well as a ‘buddy bench’. The school plans to add fossils to an existing sandbox to create an archaeological dig site, and if the budget allows, a zip-line play structure and swings.

Dillon Valley Elementary School, Dillon, Summit County

Dillon Valley Elementary school yard serves as the community park and school play grounds.  The project will replace old plastic and metal play equipment with natural elements, like a vegetated “forest swale to mitigate snow melt and drainage issues” (a parent donated $15,000 for trees) an eco-play zone, walkway, community garden planters, and an outdoor classroom. Serious drainage issues will be fixed to allow year-round use and reduce wet and snowy patches from developing on the main walkway.