Several Colorado Springs area schools are getting new playgrounds this summer.

Tuesday was construction day at Abrams Elementary on Fort Carson.

About 100 students from Fountain-Fort Carson School District 8 and 400 volunteers from the Home Depot Foundation and KaBOOM!, a nonprofit that provides playgrounds to schools nationwide, spent long, hot hours making outdoor improvements at the school.

Ideas from 40 students were incorporated into the playground design, including one from 9-year-old Troy, who wanted a spider web, zip line, rock wall, tower, tackle dummies and other features, some of which were added.

The playground now meets handicapped-accessible standards under the Americans with Disabilities Act as well.

Volunteers also stuffed 500 backpacks with school supplies for students, created an outdoor classroom and added outdoor seating.

Dirt donations needed

Two schools in Colorado Springs School District 11 are upgrading their playgrounds. Each received a $110,000 grant from Great Outdoors Colorado, which disburses money from the Colorado Lottery.

Both projects also relied on student input.

The Academy for Advanced and Creative Learning, a K-8 charter school that specializes in gifted learners, is building a "natural" playground with an outdoor classroom, small caves, a walking bridge, an elf village created by grassy mounds and shade structures, and a butterfly garden with quiet seating.

School officials are requesting donations of dirt.

"We need 700 yards of dirt to make the design happen for kids," said Director Nikki Myers.

Landscape boulders, logs, tree stumps, plants, trees and volunteer workers also are needed.

Myers said contract negotiations with a design company are in the works.

The school, at 2510 N. Chestnut St., opened in 2010. Students raised $29,500 for the project through a schoolwide read-a-thon.

To help, call the school at 434-6566.

Honoring Italian heritage

Edison Elementary, 3125 N. Hancock Ave., is using its grant to install playground equipment, boulders for climbing, two outdoor learning areas and shading.

The school yard is being named Edison Park at Venetian Village, in honor of the heritage of the area, which in the early 1900s attracted Italian homesteaders who worked as coal miners and farmers.

Making way for growth

Playground renovations also are underway at Centennial Elementary School, 1860 S. Chelton Road, in Harrison School District 2.

A $190,000 grant from the Colorado Health Foundation is paying for an expansion and special-needs accommodations.

The playground was equipped to handle 200 students. But with enrollment now topping 550, the space has become inadequate, school officials said.

G.E. Johnson Construction Co. is overseeing the project, and Churchich Recreation in Niwot is supplying the new equipment.

The setup is expected to be completed shortly after school starts next month.

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