The gift of play has Glenmerry parents asking the community what to do with a nearly $47,000 reimbursement from the province.
Glenmerry Elementary School is among the 102 elementary and middle schools across 31 school districts benefiting from $2.4 million in playground funding being returned to parent advisory councils (PAC) that recently purchased playground equipment for their kids.
“At this point we just want to get some feedback from parents, students, teachers and the community as to where they’d like to see it go,” explained new Glenmerry PAC chair Laura Price. “We’d like to see it go back into something that could benefit everybody, including the community since they raised so much funds for us.”
The Glenmerry Community Playground is the West Kootenay’s first wheelchair-accessible play zone.
The $230,000 project, plus donations made in kind from local businesses and organizations, started as a vision five years ago.
Just as the idea for a new playground started to move along, former PAC chair Sheryl Moon remembers all too well the cancellation of the province’s $50,000 gaming grant coupled with the end of Rick Hansen accessible playground funds.
“It sent us in a different path and we had to work even harder to raise the money we needed,” she said, noting the group’s submission into a Pepsi Refresh project, a number of fundraising efforts and plea to the community.
“This is one of the best things I’ve heard the government do is reimburse the PACs because it shows they’re recognizing the importance and function of playgrounds and the need to make them accessible play spaces,” said Moon.
“That was our message right from the beginning when we started the Glenmerry playground, to make it clear that a playground is not just an extra, it’s an essential extension of the school and the classroom.”
The community project was received so well that in the PAC’s final push to fundraise, an additional $10,000 was secured. This money has now gone toward the purchase of two saddle spinners and a stand up seesaw, which will be installed in the spring, that were omitted from the initial playground plan to cut costs.
Glenmerry parents are now collecting input via email to email@example.com and sending out newsletters in hopes some creative ideas spring forward on what to do with this gift.
One idea is to put in a multi-purpose court that not only school kids but the community can take advantage of.
“I was so excited, it’s just such fantastic news,” said Price. “You don’t get money like that just refunded to you very often.”