LOWER EAST SIDE — These Lower East Side students came back to school this fall with an extra bounce in their step.
To give kids at Delancey Street's P.S. 110, the Florence Nightingale School, a safer place to play and exercise, the school recently installed a springy gym floor in its lobby, which doubles as a physical education space because the school lacks a gym.
"It feels great as a walking and running surface," said Karen Feuer, the school's principal for the past five years. "You can land on it in such a way that is much safer than a wooden floor would be, and it looks beautiful."
The bouncy new floor, which took the entire summer to install, replaced a cracked gray concrete surface with "Elastiwood," made from half an inch of rubber topped with a vinyl covering and a layer of polyurethane paint.
"It has transformed our dreary space into a much brighter and airier feeling," Feuer said. "It cries out physical education, to the extent that it can with six columns still in the room."
The project cost just over half a million dollars and was funded by the Department of Education, documents show.
A DOE spokeswoman said that when schools like P.S. 110 don't have gyms, the city trains teachers on how to hold physical education classes in non-traditional spaces.
"Facility access and space present a unique challenge across all NYC schools," Marge Feinberg, DOE spokeswoman, said in a statement. "However, high quality PE instruction is not contingent on a traditional gym space."
P.S. 110's new exercise space is used for gym classes for the school's 416 elementary students for most of the day, but it also serves as a thoroughfare for students and staff.
"The nurse's office is off it. The PTA is off it," Feuer said. "Parents wait there.... The after-school program uses it as a meeting space."
Still, Feuer is grateful for the new gym flooring, which she said could make kids more excited about PE classes.
"In addition to it really looking great and feeling great," she said, "the look actually validates that there is physical activity going on in that space."