In 2015, long before a new school referendum was approved by the community, two physically handicapped students in the primary/OSC school completed a school project about accessibility on their existing school playground. Their final project was a video which clearly illustrated how difficult it was to traverse up the hill and maneuver around the grass and mulch to interact at their playground – leaving very few ways for them to participate. In the winter, any outdoor play became next to impossible for them both, one in a wheelchair and one visually impaired. As a result, Sherri Endress-Lovell, the principal of the school, came to the PTO and requested that we set aside our usual annual donation from the PTO to save up money to help students like Hunter and Noah.
A TEAM VISION
After the referendum passed to build a new school in 2016, the PTO & Sherri really started talking. The PTO engaged a team of designers from Design Studio Etc, Plunkett Raysich Architects and other professionals who graciously donated their time and talents to develop a Master Plan – not knowing if we could bring the DREAM to REALITY, but taking the first step forward to do something really special in Lodi.
The team wanted to accommodate handicapped accessibility as much as possible within budget constraints, while another goal was materializing for the playground design group at the same time. Seeing the natural beauty in the new school landscape and our community as a whole, the design team started researching the educational and emotional benefits of natural play spaces. From this research, educators made the exciting decision to incorporate many natural play elements in the design - intending to engage creativity and fun, while reducing emotional stress and conflict for our youngest students. This has become a key element in the design of both playground areas.
The Lodi Community is so blessed to have amazing natural beauty and history all around us. The design team wanted to highlight and put this geographical awesomeness in the forefront, and so elements of the Ice Age period and Native American history are found throughout our dream playgrounds.
The playground for the 4-year-old Kindergartners will feature small hills, or drumlins, while log elements and a willow cave will be constructed from local wood harvested from the Ice Age Trail. The K through 2nd grade playground will feature mammals from the Ice Age such as bears and the wooly mammoth. Most of the play area will be located inside the outline of Momma Bear and Baby Bear effigies, reminiscent of ancient local Indian mounds. Again, log play and natural elements will be intermingled throughout.
WHAT ELSE WILL THE PLAYGROUNDS HAVE
A Snake Slide is one central feature of the K-2 playground, taking advantage of a slope change at the edge of the area. This slide will be built into the hillside, resembling a snake, and providing an exciting 10’ wavy drop to the bottom! We hope to also incorporate a Mammoth Climber and a Tusk Tunnel to really bring the wooly mammoth theme to life. Both areas feature a natural outdoor classroom, while the design also encourages music and sensory play, with a path, or ‘circuit’, to keep children engaged.
Info Coming Soon