Stay Cool This Summer

How One School Got Shady

Wallace A. Smith Elementary School

When students at Wallace A. Smith Elementary School, in Ooltewah, Tennessee, used to go out for recess, they often complained about the heat, says assistant principal Sharon Dodds: "We had no shade whatsoever. It can get really hot here in August and September, and on some days we couldn't even take the children outside." At the same time, a faculty member was diagnosed with skin cancer and she expressed concerns about monitoring students outdoors. The school's PTA decided to apply for one of the AAD's Shade Structure grants and received it in 2009. The grant helped pay for a 26-by-26-foot shade structure that covers some of the play equipment as well as a grassy area. It's made a big difference, Dodds says. The shaded area is about 20 degrees cooler than the rest of the playground, and the school nurse reports that fewer students are getting overheated. Teachers even use the area as an outdoor classroom. But it's the kids who really love it: "It''s much more comfortable," says Cooper Case, who's 10. "Our teachers used to say, 'It's too hot to go out today.' Now we pretty much get to go outside every day."

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