Kelly Creek Community School will soon have a new accessible playground through $125,000 in provincial funding.
School principal Jamie Burt said construction on the project has begun and it should be complete shortly.
“They started breaking ground on the day we came back to school,” said Burt. “We’ve been working in a little bit of a construction zone since we’ve been back.
“We found out at the end of last school year that we were fortunate enough to receive this grant. The school district had put in an application and Edgehill Elementary School was a couple of years ahead of us with a new playground. Powell River is pretty lucky that we ended up with another school.”
Burt said there was a committee at the school made up of staff and parents who worked on the playground development.
“We’ve designed something that we think is pretty neat for our kids,” said Burt.
The playground has been designed to be accessible. Burt said he loves the school grounds at Kelly Creek because there are so many options for play. He said there are forested areas, there is the playing field and then a bit of an eclectic playground, with pieces dating back to the 1980s to newer.
“It definitely needed an upgrade,” said Burt. “As an outdoor school, kids are constantly playing in the forest. What we’ve been able to create is mainly constructed out of yellow cedar and there’s a lot of balance beams, stepping logs, and almost a natural place space. That’s accompanied with a mobile spinner which is quite common now, that a lot of kids with unique sensory needs find soothing.
“We also have a neat little water feature so that’s actually a hand pump the kids can operate that will spill out water and create dams and rivers and whatnot. We feel very fortunate.”
In putting together the playground, Burt said the school worked with a company from Vancouver Island that was involved in the Edgehill project.
“They were fantastic because we did want something that would fit,” said Burt. “We weren’t looking for a stereotypical plastic new playground. We were looking for something we thought would fit our kids and wants a little bit better. They delivered for us.”
The school managed to meld some of the older playground pieces that were still usable, and that students liked, with the new.
“We’ve integrated the two,” said Burt. “We have the newer area up top and we’ve added a brand new big piece down below our existing one. It is a bit of a hybrid.”
Burt said the school is thankful the school district did the work for the grant and he thinks it’s going to add to an already awesome play space.
“It’s uniquely Kelly Creek,” said Burt. “We love it.”
Funding for the new playground came from the provincial government’s playground equipment program, now in its third year. The program provides up to $5 million each year to school districts to purchase new or replacement playgrounds. This year, 40 schools are receiving $125,000 each toward a new, universally-accessible playground – a $25,000 increase for each playground from last year’s investment.
According to a media release from the provincial government, playgrounds help promote physical activity and healthy lifestyles, encourage children to share, develop conflict resolution skills and overcome challenges. Playing outside helps reduce anxiety,improves focus,and helps enhance students’ attention spans, the release added.