ACS playgrounds, along with the Athletic Field complex, are in dire need of renovations and modernizations to make them safer, better suited for the students’ needs, and more effective with large groups of children.
The Nature Playground: The Early Years playground will be converted into Lebanon’s first urban “nature playground”. “Research shows that kids who spend time playing in nature, jumping off logs, and chasing butterflies are sick less often and have fewer anxiety and depression,” says Sawsan Yaseen, Principal for Early Years, who is overseeing the project.
The ACS Lower School playground is getting a spatial redesign and will receive much needed new jungle-gyms, “We want to encourage upper and lower body strength, but in addition to physical activity, we also want to provide opportunities for kids to engage socially,” says Diann Osterlund, Elementary School Principal.
The Elementary School Roof: also this playground space, used by 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders, and for after school activities, will be upgraded to include new poured-in-place rubber flooring, a new climbing structure, and a new basketball court.
The ACS Athletic Field: After 11 years of wear and tear, the acclaimed athletic field needs a new surface, which will complement the much-needed moderate redesigns and beautifications of the tennis courts, basketball court, and the walls.
“A nature playground will provide children with a unique experience in Beirut, where contact with nature is sorely lacking. Research shows that kids who spend time playing in nature, jumping off logs, and chasing butterflies are sick less often and have fewer behavioral issues, anxiety and depression,” says Sawsan Yaseen, the Principal for ACS Early Years. Yaseen is heading the progressive plan to renovate the nursery playground and turn it into the first nature playground at an urban school in Lebanon.
Additionally, Yaseen is working alongside Diann Osterlund, the Elementary School Principal, and a playground design firm, to redesign the new ACS lower school playground (KG1, KG2, 1st, and 2nd grade). This is Osterlund’s fourth playground project. She proclaims, "we want to encourage upper and lower body strength, but in addition to physical activity, we also want to provide opportunities for kids to engage socially. With the right type of equipment, there are often little spaces like a fort, where they can congregate and feel like they are ‘getting away’ to a special place."
Osterlund is also overseeing the changes to the playground on the roof of the elementary school building which is used by 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders, and for after school activities. The rubber tiles of the roof playground were generously donated by an ACS family in 2007, and were a tremendous improvement at the time. Unfortunately, after eight years of wear and tear, a new solution is needed. New poured-in-place rubber flooring for the entire roof, along with a climbing structure, will be added and one of the three small soccer courts will be changed into a basketball court, a request that came on behalf of girls in the upper grades. These custom designed renovations to three unique ACS playgrounds will help the school step even further into the future and create safer and creative play spaces for the students.
Lastly, and equally important to the health of the school, are plans to redevelop the ACS Athletic Field complex, the playground of the middle and high schools - where they have PE, play on their sports teams, and get active. In 2004, and thanks to a generous group of donors, ACS installed this field - the first astro-turf sports field in Lebanon. This field has allowed the facility to stay resilient with a full schedule of sports throughout the entire year, even through rainy winters, and it has been a wonderful asset to the entire local community. After 11 years of wear and tear, the field needs a new surface, which will complement the much-needed moderate redesigns and beautifications of the tennis courts and the walls. These renovations will help ACS continue to offer superb athletic programs that match their excellent academic counterparts.