Nearly two dozen schools in the state are getting new playground surfaces that are designed to reduce injuries from falls and increase accessibility. Workers at Welch Products, based in Carlisle, are using 1.5 million pounds of crumb rubber from recycled tires to create the surfaces.
Welch Products spokesman Tim Mahoney says traditional playground surfaces – such as mulch, sand or pea gravel – are fairly safe, but have a number of shortcomings. "They’re high maintenance products," Mahoney says, "you have rake them back and replace all the holes on a daily basis. Secondly, most of those products don’t provide any A.D.A. accessability, so there’s no integration of children with disabilities on the playgrounds."
The new playground surfaces are the result of a partnership between the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and the Iowa Association of School Boards and should be completely installed by early next month. Twenty-two schools selected for the grants are required to hold an educational program or ceremony highlighting the benefits of recycling tires. Mahoney says recycled tires can also used as an energy source.
"Traditionally, they’ve been used as fuel to power anything from cement plants to power plants," Mahoney said. Welch Products also works closely with the Iowa Department of Transportation to reuse old tires. Mahoney says the recycled tires are used in a host of D.O.T. construction project and as roadside vegetation control.
According to Welch Products’ website, over 225 million scrap tires are generated every year in the United States. Here’s the list of schools that are getting new playground surfaces:
Pekin Elementary, Packwood
Lakeview Elementary, Solon
Glidden-Ralston Elementary, Glidden
Prairie View Elementary, Cedar Rapids,
Mid-Prairie Kalona Elementary, Kalona
Prairie Valley Elementary, Callendar
Baxter Elementary, Baxter
Gilmore City-Bradgate Elementary, Gilmore City
Aurelia Elementary, Aurelia
Central Elementary Kindergarten Building, Elkader
Harris-Lake Park Elementary, Lake Park
Roland Story Elementary, Story City
West Hancock Elementary, Britt
Durant Elementary, Durant
Anderson Elementary, Bondurant
Westridge/Thode-Rouse Child Development Center, Waterloo
West Elementary, Polk City
Sunset Heights Elementary, Webster City
The Early Childhood Learning Center, Cherokee
Hills Elementary, Des Moines
Karen Acres Elementary, Urbandale