HOPE – Clinton Primary School will “branch out” this year through a program of the Arkansas Department of Agriculture which provides shade trees for school playgrounds.
The 2020 Shade Trees on Playgrounds (STOP) program has designated CPS among 15 schools statewide to receive up to five trees which will be planted on the school playground to provide shaded rest for students and help limit the later risk of adult skin cancer.
The program is the result of a 2002 initiative of the ADA Forestry Division Urban and Community Forestry program based upon American Cancer Society data from research showing children who are frequently or severely sunburned are more at risk in adult life to develop “malignant melanoma” skin cancer.
“Trees have been proven to dramatically reduce exposure to damaging sunrays, thereby increasing the amount of time one can spend outside without getting sunburned,” the Forestry Division announcement states.
ADA officials noted many school playgrounds are designed without compensating shaded areas. Schools statewide are invited each year to apply for STOP tree plantings, and each designated campus becomes responsible for the development and maintenance of trees planted at the school.
Specific trees which are suitable for selected campuses are chosen by the Forestry Division based upon growing conditions. Winning schools receive up to five trees, mulch, watering supplies, planting guidelines and training which can be incorporated into cross-curricular lessons.
CPS Principal Ashlea Stewart said planning is under way for a tree planting ceremony and development of the STOP program at Clinton Primary. Trees are typically awarded in November and December for immediate planting, and will reach maturity based upon species and soil conditions most often within five to 10 years.
Periodic site visits by Forestry Division representatives will be provided to assess tree growth and health.