With nearly a year of planning and preparation, Children of Hope Child Development Center has opened its new playground area for students.

The preschool received a $14,000 grant for construction of the playground from The Lutheran Thrift Store Shop, which went towards improving the school’s property and furthering student development.

The playground area consists of a figure-eight bike path and two garden areas in the center.

In one garden ring students planted edible plants such as lettuce and cabbage, and in the other ring students planted flowers.

Each edible plant that’s grown will be donated to local food banks in the area.

School Board Co-President Desiree Wallin said the grant was given to the school to proceed in being an innovative community development that would center bringing the school and the community together.

“We needed a bike path and the kids love to garden,” Wallin said.

Faculty members felt a bike path would be beneficial to the students of Children of Hope because they would no longer be limited to biking on the sidewalk, and would assist with the children’s motor skills.

“Before they were scooting on their tricycles on the sidewalks, and it was difficult for them to really enjoy being on a bike. Now this is strictly for biking, this is where they’re supposed to be, so we see a lot of cooperation,” Wallin said.

Students have been responding well to their new garden area, and feel they have a small area for themselves.

In the past, Children of Hope students would use the community garden at Esperanza Lutheran Church.

“The church’s group, Garden of Eden, comes out to the kids every month and they do a garden activity that also incorporates bible lessons. The kids are actively involved in making sure their garden is growing,” Wallin said.

The grant received from The Lutheran Thrift Store Shop also assisted with creating a smaller area for the school’s 2 year olds, which is currently under construction.

“They’re very excited about what they have now,” Wallin said.

• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or dochoa@ahwatukee.com.

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