FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The Fort Rucker Directorate of Family, and Morale, Welfare and Recreation prides itself on providing top-notch childcare to youth who call the post home, and keeping its facilities updated plays a large part in the success of the effort.
The Fort Rucker Child Development Center recently completed a renovation of its playgrounds around the center to be able to provide a safe, fun environment for the children of Fort Rucker to enjoy as part of their development, according to Kimberly Cardwell, CDC training and curriculum specialist.
"This is party of an Army-wide implementation -- playgrounds throughout the Army are being replaced to meet [certain] standards," she said. "They're being updated to make the grounds safer and provide more for the children to do."
Cardwell said the construction began in July, and was officially completed and signed off on about three weeks ago, so the children at the CDC can utilize the playgrounds' new amenities, including educational and team-building activities.
The new playground now consists of three different types of surfaces -- concrete, grass and a soft foamy surface that surrounds most of the play areas, which Cardwell said was part of the standards.
The grounds are split into multiple play areas that surround the CDC, and include not just slides, playpens and swing sets, but also interactive games that children can participate in, including bowling and sack races. There are also water pumping stations where children get to pump water through different sets of pipes that give the children the chance to cool off a bit during the hot summer months.
"We're trying to bring our classroom outside onto the playground," said the training and curriculum specialist. "We have musical areas, art areas, science areas -- it's really educational for them."
The children get to spend time outdoors during their time at the CDC, and that time outdoors is not mean just for play time, but times to learn, as well, said Cardwell.
"It's required that the children spend an hour outside in the morning and an hour in the afternoon," she said, "but if we have special activities, then we can come out more, but we have to make sure we don't overload the playground with all of the children we have here."
The CDC is open Mondays-Fridays from 5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and provides full-day, part-day and hourly care for children ages 6 weeks to 5 years old, as well as preschool programs. The center offers trained staff, balanced meals and age-appropriate developmental activities.
The Fort Rucker Mini CDC is also available for potential around-the-clock services in a home-like environment for up to 20 children.
One of the playgrounds around the CDC is actually built around a tree that was originally planned to be cut down to make room, but was kept when it came to light that the tree was actually protected and couldn't be removed.
"We didn't want [the tree to be cut] … and it worked out pretty well, so they built the playground around it and now that's our tree house -- it's my favorite piece out here," said Cardwell. "This is just really exciting for us."
For more information about the CDC, call 255-2262.