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posted: 9/20/2013 6:39 PM

District 93 Early Childhood Center adding playground

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What school is complete without a playground?

A new facility in Bloomingdale is about to build that most basic addition.

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Carol Stream Elementary District 93's Early Childhood Center staff and parents are coming together Saturday to build a playground for the center at 280 Old Gary Ave.

The center, which opened its doors Aug. 29, serves 180 preschool students from Carol Stream, Bloomingdale and Hanover Park.

Slides and swings, a rock wall, drums and chimes and a tricycle trail will be features of the new playground.

"A playground is such a symbol of childhood and exploration," Principal Kim Hefner said. "Just to help them develop movement and social skills is so important."

The center brings in students with special needs, as well as at-risk children and kids on a tuition-based program. Hefner said they have two 2-hour shifts in the morning and afternoon three to five days a week with a maximum of 15 students per classroom.

An element of the education is the CATCH (Coordinated Approach to Child Health) program, a curriculum where children are instructed on adopting healthy eating habits. Short 20-minute activity time is built into the day.

The cost of the playground is $25,000, with $2,000 of that coming from a grant from Cadence Health. Hefner said the remaining funds were a planned part of the building process.

Parents and volunteers who are at least 18 years old will be doing the heavy lifting for the playground's construction, with supplies, tools and supervision from Team Reil, a provider of recreational park equipment and furnishings.

The original building was constructed roughly 60 years ago as a kindergarten and then became District 93's administrative offices. It was later leased to private preschools for adult programming such as yoga, and to the village of Carol Stream for storage space.

"The district and the board felt early childhood is a great investment, not only in children but in a society," Hefner said. "It's a phenomenal place for children and families."

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