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Cortland Community Action Program Constructs “Green” Playground

The Cortland Community Action Program in Cortland, NY has used American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding to build a new, ‘green’ playground made entirely from recycled materials.  As a result, the program’s roughly 60 Head Start children, and all children in the surrounding community are enjoying a larger and more stimulating playground.

Recreation, which helps young children develop social and motor skills, is an important part of the Head Start curriculum at Cortland Community Action Program. For many years, children’s recess at the one of the program sites was limited to an old playground – a wooden structure with a knack for causing splinters. With Recovery Act funding, the Cortland Community Action Program was able to make much needed playground improvements. Community volunteers assembled the new playground made from the recycled plastic of 28,522 milk jugs with construction equipment donated by local businesses. The ground cover created from the rubber of 2,470 tires, provides a soft surface if children fall.  Boasting climbing walls, twisting slides and an agriculture table where children can plant flowers or crops, the new playground increases children’s safety, promotes physical activity and provides educational value.

The advantages of this playground are by no means limited to children enrolled in Head Start. Located at the Cortland YMCA, this structure is available to the public. The Cortland Community Action Program, with ARRA funding, will further benefit its surrounding community by providing Early Head Start services for 72 infants, toddlers and pregnant women. To meet these families’ needs, the program is planning to hire 25 new staff, 90 percent of whom will work full-time. For more information on these and other ARRA-funded grants, please visit

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