Students at A.J. Elliot Elementary School will soon have a new accessible playground, thanks to $125,000 in provincial funding.
“I think this year, more than ever, we are realizing the importance of outdoor play,” said Claire Trevena, MLA for North Island via news release. “Students on Malcolm Island are going to benefit from newer and safer playground equipment, helping them develop key cognitive, social, and physical skills.”
Funding for the new playground comes from the provincial government’s Playground Equipment Program (PEP), 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 towards a new, universally-accessible playground – a $25,000 increase for each playground from last year’s investment.
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 PEP was launched in 2018. Since then, government has invested $15 million to provide 141 new playgrounds to schools throughout the province, benefitting over 35,000 students. Every school district has now received at least one new playground. The program relieves parents of some of the responsibility for fundraising for playground equipment and provides access to communities that don’t have the fundraising capacity to buy the playground equipment students need.
The PEP is a part of the Province’s commitment to update aging infrastructure in B.C. schools to provide safe, enjoyable and accessible learning environments. The New Democrat government has delivered historic levels of funding to B.C. schools, including a record $2.8 billion for new and improved schools for B.C. students in Budget 2020.