A new accessible playground allowing students to play at their physical ability level will be built at Port Clements Elementary School after receiving $165,000, announced the Ministry of Education and Child Care on April 29.
Through the provincial government’s Playground Equipment Program, the school is one of 30 in 24 districts to receive its share of $5 million in funding in 2022. The playground investment will benefit more than 7,000 students across the province.
“Students should have safe and accessible playgrounds no matter where they live. I am excited to see these investments in North Coast and look forward to seeing these playgrounds when they are finished,” Jennifer Rice, North Coast MLA said.
Each school district will receive $165,000 for accessible schoolyard equipment. Since the program started in 2018, 231 schools have been funded, including Lax Kxeen Elementary in Prince Rupert, whose official opening is May 19.
“Playing outdoors has always been important for our children,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Finance. “By funding these playgrounds, we are investing in the education and well-being of children …”
The PEP had benefitted more than 57,000 students and relieved parents of the pressure to fundraise for new playground equipment, a media statement reads. “This funding builds on the government’s commitment to provide safe learning environments for all students in years to come, which has included the creation of outdoor classrooms in some districts.”
“Taking a break from the classroom and getting time outside to play gives children the opportunity to explore through play-based learning,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education and Child Care.
The program requires that playgrounds must be universal in design, which means they should be accessible to as many people as possible without adaptation. This can include “adventure-style” playground features, the Playground Equipment Program website states.
“Parents appreciate the Playground Equipment Program as it eases pressure to fundraise and ensures accessible playgrounds are part of the school community,” said Andrea Sinclair, president of the BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils.
The playgrounds will be designed, built and installed over the next year.
Kaitlyn Bailey | Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
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