Metro Playground Uses Turf to Keep Kids Safe

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BLUE SPRINGS, Mo. -- School administrators responsible for keeping kids safe are having to do that with less and less money.  The Blue Springs School District is working on a solution.  New playground turf has been installed at Thomas Ultican Elementary.

It cost about $64,000 to install the turf which equals $8 a square foot.  That's compared to the $1 a square foot the district was paying for mulch, but school officials say the turf's safety and cost will pay off in the end. It's 8,000 square feet of beautiful, soft and so-called durable turf, laid down to replace the mulch on the elementary playground.

"You feel like you're almost walking on a cloud," says Thomas Ultican Elemtary School Principal Kelly Flax.  "Over the years we have had kids that have been sent to the nurses office for mulch in their eyes and debris."

The turf is part of a pilot program for the Blue Springs School District which is studying the surface for its safety benefit to kids and cost effectiveness to the district.

"We put foam pad underneath it that's about 2 1/2 inches thick, that absorbs all the energy.  So whenever a kid falls or anything, they will be protected whenever they hit," says Synlawn Development Consultant Brock Hall.

Flax says the turf's high safety rating should cut down on playground injuries and also increase the amount of time kids can access the outdoor area.

"We want to keep them active and health, physical health is huge.  This is just going to improve our chances of really getting kids outside and actually meeting the 150 minutes of exercise time that we are supposed to have," he says.

Hall says the turf can drain 30 inches of water an hour and snow can easily be removed off its surface, meaning it's access to kids is year round no matter the weather.

" It doesn't matter how much rain we get or right after a snow," he says.

Synlawn also says the turf is ADA accessible which means no kids are left out.

"Just a lot of fun for the kids," says Flax.

The district says the turf will be less maintenance than mulch.  They also say while the turf will take 10 years to pay back, they expect it to last at least 18 years. Right now Thomas Ultican is the only school in the district to have the turf but the long term plan is to install it in every elementary school playground.

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