Donations Boost Outdoor Play Areas

ThedaCare Gives to Town of Menasha, Huntley Elementary to Fund Projects

A local school and a park will get new fitness equipment aimed at helping residents live healthier lives.  ThedaCare recently made donations to both Huntley Elementary School in Appleton and the Town of Menasha to purchase new outdoor equipment.

The donations are part of ThedaCare’s ongoing commitment to its mission of improving community health, said Kara Muchow, regional development director-leadership and impact gifts for the ThedaCare Foundations. By adding new equipment to playgrounds and parks, she said ThedaCare hopes more people will become active.

“If we desire to have a healthier future in our community, we need to start with the lifestyles of our youth. By providing children with a clean, safe and fun place to go when they are outside, we encourage a healthier lifestyle,” Muchow said. “ThedaCare’s partnership with community projects, such as the new playground at Huntley Elementary School and the outdoor equipment at Fritse Park, is vital in improving the health of our community.” 

In the Town of Menasha, ThedaCare’s donation will help fund the purchase of 14 pieces of outdoor fitness equipment at Fritse Park, which was reconstructed in 2013. The new equipment will be installed in the spring and there are plans to hold outdoor fitness classes in the park, said Mike Kading, the town’s director of parks and recreation.

“We believe the combination of outdoor fitness equipment and the play area will encourage families to come to the park to play and get fit,” he said. “Park and recreation departments, and specifically parks, are a great place to encourage individuals to lead healthy, active lives.”

At Huntley Elementary School, the funds will help purchase a custom designed jungle gym, rubber flooring, Tri-Active outdoor fitness equipment, and some other pieces designed for fitness, such as an abdominal bench, said Jill Rushkofske, a physical education teacher at the school, which is located within blocks of Appleton Medical Center.

“We planned pieces of equipment that can be used to work all muscle groups to build strength and endurance,” she said. “Our vision is to have a community fitness playground, which will be used as an outdoor classroom, a place for students to be more physically active at recess, and a place where adults and children in the community can go to work on their fitness when school is not in session.”

Rushkofske said the school is trying to raise $100,000 for the playground and install it next year. She said approaching ThedaCare for support was a natural because of AMC’s location near the school and “they believe in supporting and advocating for the health of children.”

ThedaCare™ is a community health system consisting of five hospitals: Appleton Medical Center, Theda Clark Medical Center, New London Family Medical Center, Shawano Medical Center, and Riverside Medical Center in Waupaca. ThedaCare also includes ThedaCare Physicians, ThedaCare Behavioral Health, ThedaCare At Work, and ThedaCare at Home. ThedaCare is the largest employers in Northeast Wisconsin with more than 6,175 employees. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.