2020 Community Report: Revitalizing Schools—A Reflection

November 1, 2020

Supplemental content for our 2020 Community Report’s “Academic Year In Review”

With Fulcrum Support, More Outdoor Play at Our Lady of the Lake
A reflection written by Daniel P. Mullen, principal of Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School

We’ve all added many new vocabulary terms during this pandemic, like “contact tracing,” “herd immunity,” and the differences between isolation and quarantine, or N95 and KN95 masks. Another is “risk mitigation”—looking at factors that lower the risk of COVID transmission. A big one? Being outside in the fresh air is safer than being indoors.

“It is especially important during this pandemic to be outdoors in the sunlight and breathing fresh air,” said Marisol Joynt, director of early childhood learning at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic School (OLL) in Seattle. Joynt points out that not only are children able to get fresh air outside, but “children playing outside get aerobic exercise and gain skills, such as pushing and pulling outdoor play equipment.”

A Fulcrum Foundation School Partnership Grant to OLL in 2020 provided the critical funds needed to retrofit and upgrade an age-appropriate playground for preschool-aged students (ages 3-5) at OLL. No other play structure on the OLL campus was accessible to that age group prior to the grant. With the installation of these safety features and new play amenities, students at OLL will have more options for fun outdoor play during designated time periods as required by licensing regulations.

“Through the act of climbing, jumping, swinging, and sliding, a child practices important gross motor skills and also becomes physically healthier through strengthening bones and muscles,” said Catherine Schultze, preschool teacher at OLL. “The play structure is also a vehicle for socialization and learning positive behavioral skills, helping to teach things like taking turns, sharing, working together, negotiation, problem-solving, cooperation, and how to treat their peers with kindness.”

During this time when our students need to spend so much time in “pods,” socially distanced from one another, getting outside gives more space to feel free. “Free play and fresh air help reduce stress,” says Joynt. Plus, there are other practical benefits. “It’s a step towards getting our program licensed and to nurture the children we have in our care, now and in the future,” she says.

Feeling the support of the Fulcrum Foundation during a time of so much uncertainty has lifted up the OLL community. “I cannot adequately express how grateful we are to the Fulcrum Foundation,” said Schultze.