Cook Inlet Native Head Start Celebrates Opening of Culturally Inspired Playground

Event participants explore the new playground.

The laughter of happy children filled the air as Cook Inlet Native Head Start celebrated the opening of its new playground in September. Designed by Coffman Engineers, in partnership with a planning committee comprised of Alaska Native Tribal Leaders, the playground drew inspiration from the Alaskan landscape and traditional Alaska Native structures and activities.

Every piece of equipment was custom designed; the playground pieces and placement tell a story. The west side features indigenous housing structures separated by a blue strip of water made from turf. The east side of the playground is more contemporary, highlighting three masks depicting several types of emotions. In the water floats custom-made Alaska Native inspired boats — from a sea kayak to different types of canoes.

Many studies have shown that providing culturally relevant education translates into greater student success. By providing early education that incorporates Alaska Native culture and values, including time for play, Cook Inlet Native Head Start is helping to create a pathway to success for current and future generations of Alaska Native children. Creating an environment that supports this approach is an important step towards realizing this goal; one worthy of a celebration.

The event occurred on a perfect fall day with crisp yet warm air in the golden glow of the evening sun. The event included two food trucks by the stage with an area to sit and listen to the band H3 play music for everyone to enjoy. Attendees accessed the playground through the main program entrance, allowing everyone to appreciate the student artwork-lined hallway. Additionally, there were Alaska Native crafts on display and for sale by vendors. As the event began, parents and kids quickly started to have fun with the playground equipment. A night of fun kicked off the years of joy this space is sure to bring.

Southcentral Foundation is a proud partner of Cook Inlet Native Head Start and is grateful for the ways they support the community and are helping to realize SCF’s vision: A Native Community that enjoys physical, mental, emotional and spiritual wellness.

by Silas Galbreath

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