Students at Fort Rupert Elementary School (FRES) will soon be able to enjoy a brand new and accessible playground thanks to provincial funding.
On May 8 The province of British Columbia announced will begin investing up to $5 million annually into new playground equipment for schools across the province. FRES was one of the 51 schools across B.C. selected for playground upgrades this year and will receive $105,000 to build a universally accessible playground.
“We are very excited and grateful that we are going to be given the opportunity to bring a new playground to the kids, families, and to the community out here,” said FRES Principal Alison Webber.
She said some of FRES’s playground equipment was installed when the school was built in the early 1960s.
“We had an upgrade but that was in the 1990s, so the school is more than well due for a new playground,” said Webber, adding “We are hoping to have a playground where all kids can go regardless of mobility issues or not.”
Webber said FRES is currently in the process of asking the students for ideas of what they would like to see in the new playground.
“Some of their ideas are pretty wild but we want a lot of community input,” laughed Webber, adding “Before the end of the month we want to have a plan ready and then we need to get in contact with everyone from disturbers to installers.”
Webber said she would like to see playground completed from design to installation in the summer, or within next year at the latest.
“I think when you put funding into making the school look better, and when you put funding into equipment where the all kids can play on regardless of ability that makes the school a lot more friendly,” said Webber.
Playgrounds were chosen based on those with the greatest need, following an application school districts sent out earlier this year. Priority was given to those schools without a current playground, and then to those with aging facilities.
“All students deserve quality, safe and accessible playgrounds at school, regardless of how much their parents can fundraise,” Premier John Horgan said during his visit Quadra Elementary School in Victoria on May 8 when he made the announcement. “That’s why we’re lifting the burden off of parents by investing $5 million today, and every year moving forward, to build playgrounds where they are needed.”
“The board of education is delighted that students at Fort. Rupert Elementary School will have the opportunity to play on a new accessible playground,” said John Martin Secretary-Treasurer for School District 85. “Play is a vital component of healthy physical and cognitive development for children. The board appreciates the funding received from the ministry of education.”
– with files from Ragnar Haagan and Kristyn Anthony