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Logan Square school uses $25K grant to boost wellness — starting with new playground equipment

Upgrades include a basketball hoop, soccer goals, an outdoor mural and a produce stand with fruit and vegetables students’ families can take home.

Playground upgrades at Funston Elementary School
Funston Elementary School in the Logan Square neighborhood received one of three $25,000 grants from Action for Healthy Kids and GoGo squeeZ this school year to implement health and wellness programs. It is using some of the money on upgrades to its playground and school garden.
Victor Hilitski/For the Sun-Time

Logan Square’s Funston Elementary School is getting a series of upgrades to promote healthy living for their students.

Among the most visible is new playground equipment that school officials hope students will use all the time, not just during the school day.

The revamp includes a new surface, a basketball hoop, soccer goals and better hopscotch stencils on the pavement.

There’s also an outdoor mural and a produce stand with fruit and vegetables that students’ families can take home. The school’s garden is getting a makeover, too, with new soil and a fresh coat of paint on the raised beds.

In all, the improvements cost $11,000, which came from a $25,000 grant to the school from applesauce/yogurt company GoGo squeeZ through the Action for Health Kids program.

School officials also hope to raise additional funds to lay fresh sod in the schoolyard.

Assistant Principal Matthew Glanzman said the $14,000 still unspent will be used for more playground equipment and other projects selected by the school community in cooperation with Action for Healthy Kids, a group that focuses on children’s health; the group has worked with the school since 2012.

Matthew Glanzman, assistant principal at Funston Elementary School
Matthew Glanzman is assistant principal at Funston Elementary School in the Logan Square neighborhood.
Victor Hilitski/For the Sun-Times

Glanzman said the playground upgrades are meant to encourage kids to play there when they aren’t in school, rather than Mozart Park, which is a few blocks away.

The money from GoGo squeeZ comes with condition that the school provide constructive free time and healthy initiatives for children.

“Funston has a really good foundation of health and wellness programming and has come such a long way in creating a healthier school environment,” said Loren Coleman, a spokeswoman for Action for Healthy Kids.

Gina Pacheco, a first grade teacher and parent, said the new equipment will help the kids let loose during their exercise breaks.

Pacheco said students focus on classwork better after they exercise: “They get all burned out and then it’s time to learn.”

Some Funston eighth-graders joked that with the new playground equipment, future students won’t have the chance to do what they had to do — like use two trees as soccer goals or improvise a basketball hoop with the monkey bars.

“The little kids who aren’t at school yet won’t have to worry about where to play,” said Alexandra Martinez.

“It was fun before,” added Diego Mata, “but this is better.”

Funston Elementary School eighth-graders Hugo Rabadan (from left), Diego Mata, and Alexandra Martinez
Funston Elementary School eighth-graders Hugo Rabadan (from left), Diego Mata, and Alexandra Martinez talks about changes they saw in the school environment after upgrades funded by a $25,000 grant.
Victor Hilitski/For the Sun-Times