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Building Shade Structures on Playgrounds and Sports Fields

Photo of a free-standing shade structure at the Albert Bean Elementary School in Pine Hill, New JerseyThis free-standing shade structure at the Albert Bean Elementary School in Pine Hill, New Jersey can be used as an outdoor classroom, as well as a place for parents and children to stay sun-safe when using the playground.

In his travels around the Northeast, Neil Spiegler noticed that most of the playgrounds and sports fields he saw were “woefully unprotected from the dangerous rays of the sun,” with little shade for the players or the spectators.

As the director of the Peggy Spiegler Melanoma Research Foundation in South Jersey—and the grandfather of two boys who spend a lot of time on playgrounds and sports fields—Spiegler was keenly aware of the need to protect children and families from the dangers of too much sun exposure. “I knew something had to be done, and fast!” he said.

In 2017, the foundation decided to take steps to protect the public at outdoor venues. In November, it dedicated the first of what the foundation hopes will be many shade structures in and around the community in the future. The structure was built at the Albert Bean Elementary School in Pine Hill, New Jersey, where Neil’s wife Peggy taught for almost 20 years.

Instead of covering individual pieces of playground equipment, the foundation built a free-standing shade structure that can be used as an outdoor classroom, as well as a place for parents and their children to stay sun-safe when using the playground during lunchtime and after school. It’s very popular with students, who use it often as a favorite spot to read and play.

For more information about the Peggy Spiegler Melanoma Research Foundation, visit www.psmrf.org.

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