Young Cougars just got a serious recess upgrade.
Colter Elementary School on Monday unveiled its new playground, paid for by a RunTober fundraiser.
The students ran for that support — hundreds of laps backed by donations from families and friends. In total, they raised $90,000 over two years, with half the funds going to construction of the new playground and the other half allocated to science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics projects, as well as additional playground equipment.
Parent-teacher organization member Melinda Day was the driving force behind the fundraiser, which she first saw implemented at her niece’s school in Boulder, Colorado.
“It just as the cutest thing to me, and of course I wanted to give money and learn more,” she said of that event.
It took a series of conversations to bring the event to Jackson last year, which pushed the fun run to the last week of October.
The students ended up running their laps in the snow, but most of them received at least one pledge, and the PTO blew its $10,000 goal out of the water.
Because of the pandemic, it was one of the few fundraisers that was deemed safe enough to see the light.
This year the event took place on Oct. 6, with the children running in six distinct courses, separated by grade. They rocked custom Run Cougar t-shirts and danced the laps to music from a loudspeaker.
“Its just super energetic,” Day said.
Thanks to their running, and the community backing, Colter was able to supplement its existing playground for older kids with structures more dedicated to kindergarten through second graders.
A Salt Lake City company designed the new playground, which has "something for everyone,” Day said.
There’s a spider climbing structure and a balance beam log. For less-mobile children there are bongos and adaptive swings. And while everything is geared toward those younger students, Day said her 6th and 3rd graders still had fun clambering there this weekend.
“They were pretending it was a warrior course, and they had a blast running through,” she said.
The playground, in addition to serving Colter’s Cougars during recess and before and after school, is also open to the community.