Calera Elementary School students will soon be enjoying new playground equipment designed to help improve their vestibular and proprioception systems thanks to a $10,000 grant awarded by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama.
The Be Healthy School Grants are part of $250,000 Blue Cross Blue Shield makes available each year to K-6 schools across the state. The $10,000 grants are for the implementation of school-based health and wellness programs that emphasize increased exercise, nutrition education, and parental involvement during the school year.
Calera Elementary School physical education teacher Shawn Nash applied for the grant. Nash applied for funding for playground equipment that would stimulate and benefit students vestibular and proprioception systems, which when distorted can impact a child’s sensory function. With the money, the school will be purchasing nine pieces of playground equipment that include pieces for improving balance and pieces that spin to specifically stimulate the vestibular (inner ear) system.
According to Nash, research shows that children are not spending enough time playing outside and that as a result their vestibular and proprioception systems may be impacted negatively. Studies show that rocking, spinning, and other physical movements through space – such as swinging – helps children’s brain development and their ability to pay attention.