EDMOND, Okla. (KFOR) – The University of Central Oklahoma Department of Kinesiology and Health Studies partnered with the Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) to create painted play spaces for students at elementary schools across the Sooner State.

Dragonfly painted on sidewalk
Courtesy: University of Central Oklahoma

Painted play spaces are brightly-colored games that engage and aim to improve students’ physical activity, UCO officials explained.

“As a part of painted play spaces, we had an overall goal of providing students with innovative activities that would help increase their physical activity and student engagement levels on their school campuses,” said Bailey White, kinesiology and health studies graduate assistant at UCO. “Being able to provide fun, meaningful and beneficial activities for students was a rewarding experience. As a physical education and health advocate, it was an honor to help organize and complete this project. Our focus was to make an impact on the overall health and fitness of students, and I believe we did that.”

In 2018, OSDE received a $330,000 grant from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to increase physical activity, healthy eating habits and overall health and wellness in students.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a need for social distancing in playgrounds and play areas increased.

UCO’s Department of Kinesiology and Health Studies worked with OSDE to provide recess resources and technical assistance to elementary schools in Oklahoma to safely conduct social distancing during play time.

“In the beginning, we partnered with four schools as part of the pilot project for the painted play spaces,” White said.

Additionally, UCO created toolkits that demonstrate how to use the painted play spaces as recess games.

The four schools that participated in the pilot project include Caney Elementary School in Caney, Oklahoma; Madill Elementary School in Madill, Oklahoma; Colbert Elementary School in Colbert, Oklahoma; and, Northern Hills Elementary School in Edmond, Oklahoma.

With the success of the pilot program, nearly 30 schools have the painted play spaces curriculum and designs implemented in their programs.

School districts participating in the program include Crescent Public Schools, Tonkawa Public Schools, Wetumka Public Schools and Justice Public Schools, among others.