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Iowa SAFE Surfacing Initiative Refunded for 2004


Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack recently signed the SAFE Surfacing bill to continue the pilot program.

The National Program for Playground Safety, headquartered at the University of Northern Iowa, was awarded a $500,000 grant from the Iowa Legislature in 2003 to study the safety of playground surfacing material manufactured in Iowa.

The project is part of House Amendment 1541 and was sponsored by Representatives Carmen Boal (R-Ankney); Dennis Cohoon (D-Des Moines); Mark Davitt (D-Indianola); Ervin Dennis (R-Cedar Falls); Dan Huseman (R-Aurelia); Geri Huser (D-Altoona); and Jodi Tymeson (R-Winterset).

Called the Iowa SAFE Surfacing Initiative (ISSI), the pilot project called for playground surfacing mats created from recycled tires installed at a number of randomly chosen school playgrounds throughout the state.


Cedar Heights Elementary in Cedar Falls, Iowa also participated in the program's inaugural year.

School districts that participated in the project in 2003 were Cedar Falls, Cedar Rapids, Cherokee, Davenport, Decorah, Fort Dodge, Waterloo, Sioux City, and three state parks. Most of the school playgrounds were using wood chips, sand or pea gravel for surfacing.

Injury data is being collected to quantify injuries before and after installing the surfacing.

The Iowa SAFE Surfacing Initiative has again received funding for 2004. Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack signed the refunding bill to continue installation of the rubber playground tiles to more schools in the state.




Cherokee Elementary was among the schools selected to inaugurate the Iowa SAFE Surfacing program in 2003. The injury rate on the playground without safety surfacing (top) will be compared to the data collected on injuries with safety surfacing in place (above).

Beside collecting safety data, the ISSI is also providing schools with additional resources to promote playground safety awareness and injury prevention.

"Our primary reason for pursuing this project is improving safety on the playground since falls account for 70 percent of playground injuries," said Donna Thompson, director of the National Program for Playground Safety.

The rubber matting not only offers uniform coverage that will last for years, but also allows increased accessibility for children with disabilities, a requirement for playgrounds under the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

The ISSI specifies the manufacturer of the mats must be an Iowa company. Ninety-seven percent of the grant monies are used to purchase and install the mats.


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December 6, 2019, 12:59 pm PDT

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