(MITCHELL) - Hatfield Elementary School in Mitchell will have a nature/fitness trail.
Krystal Shetler of the Times-Mail reports that in January, the school board gave the administrators at the primary grade school permission to pursue plans to create a quarter-mile asphalt trail that will circle the school's two playgrounds, north of the school.
The plan would also add trees, shrubs, ornamental grasses, an outdoor classroom a pond and other natural, science-related stations to engage the children in education while promoting physical activity. But creating such an environment on the mostly vacant two-acre spot of land comes with a hefty price tag of about $26,000.
Hatfield Principal Rex Meyers says Indiana University Health Bedford Hospital is stepping up to covering the entire cost of installing the asphalt trail this year, but committing two years' worth of volunteer hours to the completion of the project.
Tim McCormick, director of marketing at IU Health Bedford says the top priority is to decrease the percentage of obese or overweight children through school-based strategies and this project fits perfectly with our priority.
Community partners -- Dave Kissel, a landscape architect with Kissel Consultants of Williams; Whitney Baldwin of the Lawrence County Soil and Water Conservation District; Carroll Ritter of the Sycamore Land Trust, who has helped construct nature areas for North Lawrence Community Schools; Dave Redman, an educator with Purdue Extension Service; Heidi Myers, president of the Burris-Hatfield Parent Teacher Organization; and the staff at IU Health -- helped develop a plan that incorporates the natural landscape of the area, while providing a suitable fitness and educational environment.
Myers says the plan is to allow the kids to take ownership of the project, by allowing them to be involved with the creation and upkeep of the project.
The plan is to have the asphalt trail installed next month. Aside from the trail, the first phase of the project will also include planting shade trees and the creation of natural play areas.
The second phase will include fitness equipment, a garden and an outdoor classroom.
The final phase will complete plantings, add signage and finalize an interpretive brochure.
The entire design will incorporate the two existing playgrounds.
Andrea Waldbieser, counselor at Hatfield, says community help is needed. Anyone who wants to take an active role in the creation of the trail is welcome to contact the school.
In the end, Meyer hopes to have the trail open to the public during the evening hours throughout the school year, allowing community members to walk, run and enjoy the trail as well.
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