LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — Prairie Grove and Van Buren are two schools getting playground shade trees courtesy of Arkansas’ Department of Agriculture.
The state’s Forestry Division selected 15 playgrounds to participate in the Shade Trees on Playground program (S.T.OP.):
- Earle Elementary School (Earle)
- McGehee High School (McGehee)
- Holly Harshman Elementary School (Mena)
- Gardner Strong Elementary School (Strong)
- Smackover Preschool (Norphlet)
- William Jefferson Clinton Primary School (Hope)
- Parkway Elementary School (Bryant)
- Oliver Springs Elementary School (Van Buren)
- Prairie Grove Middle School (Prairie Grove)
- Ruth Doyle Middle School (Conway)
- Raymond & Phyllis Simon Middle School (Conway)
- Perryville Elementary School (Perryville)
- Arkansas School for the Blind (Little Rock)
- Blessed Sacrament School (Jonesboro)
- Mountain Home Montessori (Mountain Home)
The program was created to help reduce adult skin cancer by reducing childhood exposure from direct sunlight where children play, such as playgrounds.
The schools receive five shade trees, mulch, watering supplies, and planting guidelines, according to the Forestry Division.
“The STOP program combines hands-on, outdoor experiences with classroom curriculum about the importance of trees and how to care for trees,” says Urban & Community Forestry Program Coordinator, Kristine Kimbro Thomason. “We hope this program not only improves the health of Arkansas students but also leaves a lasting impression about the value of forests and how to be good stewards of our natural resources.”
Every year, schools may submit S.T.O.P. applications, but to qualify the school must lack shade, participate in a virtual S.T.O.P. workshop, agree to use the Forestry Division curriculum to emphasize the importance of trees and forestry in Arkansas, hold a tree-planting ceremony with students and agree to long-term maintenance of the planted shade trees.
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