Afterschool program offers many benefitsBy Emily Beckett Published 6:48pm Friday, November 30, 2012
Clanton Elementary and Clanton Intermediate schools were still settling into their new afterschool program this time last year.
Now, the schools are enjoying the benefits of the program – called Tiger Trails – including a multi-purpose playground and an indoor exercise room at CES.
The program and all new play and exercise equipment have been funded by a 21st Century Community Learning Center grant the schools received in 2011, as well as contributions from teachers, parents and the community.
“The grant has meant so much to us,” CES Principal Rebecca Threlkeld said. “We’re appreciative to parents and people who have contributed.”
Nearly 140 children, pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, use the playground and exercise equipment daily.
Although the playground has not been formally named yet, Threlkeld referred to it as a “discovery play zone.”
Located steps away from the CES gymnasium, the playground features equipment designed to help students learn about water, forests, insects and bugs, weather, balance and motion, and music and art.
“It’s a nature-based play area with lots of opportunities for exploration in elements of nature,” Threlkeld said. “Our hope is that our teachers will utilize the area for science activities as well as a play area for students.”
A concrete track for walking, running and bicycling wraps around the playground equipment, and an enclosed area with stone benches is available for teachers to use as an outdoor classroom.
“School day and afterschool kids use this area,” Threlkeld said. “It’s all about playing with the elements of nature around you.”
The playground is the outdoor facet of the afterschool program; the new exercise room is one of the indoor facets.
The room was completed in September and contains pieces of KidsFit exercise equipment that are tailored to children in size and strength.
Sheila Speaks, the afterschool fitness director, oversees the exercise room rotation and activities for students in the fitness “trail” with help from Cornerstone Fitness and Wellness employees.
Cornerstone is the community-based partner for the grant and provides semi-weekly fitness classes for children.
The fitness trail also incorporates nutrition education and is specifically designed to help children with health problems, namely obesity.
Students receive a nutritional snack each afternoon and may participate in activities such as running, karate, Zumba, jumprope and dancing.
Tiger Trails operates at CES every weekday afternoon from 3:30 until 5 or 6 p.m. and accommodates both CES and CIS students who are registered for afterschool care.