By Bela, Aaron, and Jericho, AMY Northwest Healthy Bulldog | When you enter the playground from the parking lot at AMY Northwest, you are met with benches and tables. Students can often be seen here playing games, finishing up some schoolwork, or just chatting with friends.
Past the tables, there’s a competitive basketball game happening on the basketball court. On a recent day, the eighth graders were playing against the sev- enth graders.
To the right is a jungle gym complete with mon- key bars, plastic tire swings, and a wall run. “Go long!” is heard coming from the turf field where stu-dents are playing football. All around the turf is a track for running.
How was the idea of the outdoor playground started? Mr. Arnosky, AMY’s eighth-grade math teacher and member of Friends of AMY Northwest, Inc., recently explained in an interview.
“The playground plan started in 2015 when a couple of eight graders came up with the design,” he said. “They were working with the Trust for Public Land, which is a nonprofit organization that turns existing spaces into green spaces.”
It’s important to spend time outside because of the many benefits people gain from being outside, both physically and mentally.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re at a park, in the words, or in your backyard, being in nature can have a calm- ing effect and improve your mental and physical health, especially when it’s combined with exercise,” said Dr. Christine Ashour, a doctor in a 2021 blog post for White Plains Hospital in New York.
For instance, the blog mentions that you can get a natural boost of vitamin D from the sun. “Vitamin D is essential for bone growth, regulates your im-mune system, and can help battle depression,” according to the White Plains Hospital blog post.
Getting outside also is good for your body. “A deep breath of fresh air can clear your lungs, give you more energy, and lower your blood pressure and heart rate,” according to the blog.
Overall, AMY’s outdoor playground allows students to be active and exercise, improve their physical and mental health, or just hang out with friends.
Illustration by Lorraine, eighth grade, DePaul Catholic School.