Schools offered funding for playgrounds that get kids moving

Summary

What kind of playground equipment can kids not stay away from? That’s the question schools will be asking themselves as they apply for subsidies for creative infrastructure

Make them an offer they can’t refuse

Three Flemish ministers are combining their efforts – and budgets – on a project that will make more infrastructure available to school playgrounds. The idea is to add both indoor and outdoor elements that encourage children to be more physically active.

But subsidies are also available to secondary schools and institutions of higher education to improve sport infrastructure or purchase additional equipment, or to make outdoor areas in general more pleasant.

There is also a plan to make schoolgrounds more accessible to other local groups, such as youth and sport clubs. “School gyms and playgrounds are largely under-utilised,” said Sven Gatz, minister for youth affairs. “As part of the Open School concept, we encourage schools to improve the quality of their playgrounds and make them ‘movement-friendly’. We want to see children and young people encouraged to use them and to use them actively.”

Gatz is spearheading the project together with sport minister Philippe Muyters and education minister Hilde Crevits. They are earmarking a total of €1 million for the initiative.

All schools can request subsidies of up to €15,000 for specific projects to improve their playgrounds and outdoor areas, as well as to make them more available for non-school functions. Ideas generated by the ministers include more green space, creative sport and playground equipment and a key or badge system.

“If we want Flanders to be a real sport and exercise culture, we must use every opportunity to encourage kids and young people to get moving,” said Muyters. “A place full of creative, original equipment that makes them want to be active can help a lot.”

Schools have until 22 February to request subsidies.

Photo courtesy Creative Recreation