The Curry Coastal Pilot

At a time when budget woes and liability concerns are forcing schools to remove all but the most bland playground structures, it's nice to see the opposite happening at Brookings' Kalmiopsis Elementary School andndash; where a new, towering play structure is rising up!

We applaud contractor Tommy Surna and construction companies New Creation Builders and Sage Bruce Construction, and their employees, who donated time, labor and equipment on weekends and evenings to erect the structure. It is taking about 160 man hours to install, an effort that would have costan estimated $18,000.

Of course, none of this wouldn't have been possible without the hard work and dedication of the Kalmiopsis/Azalea Parent Teacher Organization that, with the help of a generous community, raised more than $30,000 to purchase the structure. The school district also contributed more than $5,000 dollars for installation materials, C and K Markets donated $2,000 toward shipping costs, and Home Depot donated ground covering.

Why the big deal about a new playground structure?

Because unstructured free play andndash; not organized games and sports andndash; is just as important to our children as reading, writing and arithmetic. That's especially so for a generation of children staring at the TV, listening to their iPods and iPhones, and playing video games.

Numerous studies over the years have credited unstructured play with improved self-discipline, cooperation, flexibility, self-awareness, and reduced aggression and increased happiness in our children.

Besides, it's just plain fun!

Next week, when our children return to school, not only will they have new books in which to bury their noses, they will have a grand structure on which to play!

Thank you to everybody who made it possible.