Bright squares of games take over schoolyard

Photo by Pete Skiba

Photo by Pete Skiba

ALBANY, Ga. -- The bright colors leaped out from game squares as volunteer artists painted the concrete recreation area at Lincoln Elementary Magnet School at 9 a.m. Saturday.

The volunteers had been at work since 7:30 a.m. transforming a dull tan area into a vibrant game-square playground.

Included in the game squares was a child-size "Chutes and Ladders" pattern that became a bright yellow, red and green field as volunteers painted it.

"I'm here to support my school," said Janet Kirksey, a kindergarten teacher. "I can just see some of our children sliding and climbing the 'Chutes and Ladders.' "

As teachers, Kirksey and Eve Schroeder, another volunteer artist, also saw the game squares as a learning opportunity for students.

"This is a great idea. Children can come out here instead of staying inside," Schroeder said. "I can see the opportunity for number recognition, shape recognition and motor skill use."

The squares also include an African dance area, a hopscotch game that takes place on an artist's palette and other areas that encourage children to move.

Children can suffer from beginning couch-potato syndrome with television, computer games and other effortless activity.

First Lady Michelle Obama has issued a challenge to end childhood obesity called "Let's Move."

According to the website letsmove.gov, "Over the past three decades, childhood obesity rates in America have tripled, and today, nearly one in three children in America are overweight or obese. The numbers are even higher in African-American and Hispanic communities, where nearly 40 percent of the children are overweight or obese."

The activity squares at the school are meant to promote art education, creative play and physical fitness, said one of the project's guides, Nick Nelson, executive director of the Albany Museum of Art.