Parents, neighbours pitch in for school playground

Region’s first play area accessible to wheelchairs.

Glenmerry parents are starting to realize that three years of hard work was worth it now that the West Kootenay’s first wheelchair-accessible playground is nearly installed.

About 25 volunteers rolled their sleeves up Saturday, assembling a new playground that is meant for those of any age group and of any mobility level.

“It’s an excitement and a pride that we can’t even describe,” said Sheryl Moon, parent advisory council (PAC) chair, after taking part in the build.

Glenmerry strived for a playground that would raise the bar on physical activity and speak to a child by touching on all senses – from looking through a periscope to playing on a xylophone or watching a friend swing across the monkey bars.

The new addition not only includes a wheelchair circuit, but a roller slide, overhead spinners, zip line, step bridge and more.

Supported by a soft synthetic lawn, the 4,600-square-foot facility is four times the size of the old structure, which was hardly suitable for the nearly 300 kids enrolled in Trail’s only public elementary school.

“This is absolutely awesome, I’ve never seen such a hard working, incredible crew,” said principal Patrick Audet, who leant a hand Saturday.

After the grounds were prepped in March, a crew of volunteers worked diligently Saturday, completing their task in one day rather than the two it was intended to take.

“We were flabbergasted,” said Moon. “I’ve never met a more skilled group of people.”

Beyond parents and neighbours who volunteered their time, the parent advisory council used $30,000 provided by School District 20 toward paying SD20 labourers to do the prep work and last finishing touches.

But the build could not have been possible without donations made in-kind from local businesses like Selkirk Paving, which donated the rock base, or Bryan’s Transfer, which offered crane services, a dump truck, bobcat and a storage space.

“It’s been many years and to watch it go up in a few hours, it’s incredible,” said PAC member Rachelle Vogel.

The vision for a new wheelchair-accessible playground became more concrete in 2008 when $10,000 from the Kootenay Savings Community Foundation jumpstarted the PAC’s idea.

Along with $30,000 raised by the parent group, the City of Trail pitched in $25,000 and other major players donated funds to the $200,000 project.

Though the parent group is short about $10,000 for the cause, Moon is banking on some funds from a couple of fundraising events coming up, including a spring plant sale and spell-a-thon.

While the playground is unsafe to play on at this time, Moon expects kids and even seniors will be enjoying it by the first week of May.

The school’s new addition really symbolizes a sense of community for those who’ve worked hard at keeping their school in good standing.

“In one year, we went from being on the chopping block, to having our school still open, to building a fully-accessible playground and having three kindergarten classes next year,” said Vogel.