Burnaby: The B.C. government is building 50 new playgrounds in 34 school districts this year, delivering healthier, more accessible learning environments for kids, while reducing pressure on parents to fundraise, announced Rob Fleming, Minister of Education.
“As a parent, I understand first-hand how tough it can be for schools and parents to find the time and volunteers to fundraise for playground equipment and activities,” said Fleming. “Our government is committed to improving the learning environment at B.C. schools – safe, fun and accessible playgrounds are very much part of delivering on this commitment. And to make this happen, parents should not have to become dedicated fundraisers in their spare time.”
Playgrounds are a key factor in a child’s development and learning. They encourage outdoor physical activity, help students learn how to share, overcome challenges and help them focus and learn more effectively in the classroom.
This year, the Playground Equipment Program (PEP) will invest $5 million in 50 new playgrounds in 34 school districts around B.C., including 30 universally accessible playgrounds. The playgrounds will be built over the next six months and are expected to be ready for kids to play on in fall 2019.
Premier John Horgan announced $5 million to officially launch the PEP program in May 2018 – 26 schools received standard playgrounds and 25 received universally accessible playgrounds. All have been completed and are now being enjoyed by kids throughout B.C.
School districts apply for the funding by sending a list of priorities in their capital plan submissions in June each year. Playgrounds are being funded based on greatest need. Priority is given to schools where there is no playground, then to schools where the existing playground is aging. Districts that did not receive funding this year may receive funding next year, if they apply for it.
Anne Kang, MLA for Burnaby-Deer Lake said: “By funding these playgrounds, we are investing in the education and well-being of children. Parents are finally receiving a break from fundraising, and students and families in our Maywood community are receiving a much-needed safe, accessible new playground for the local community to enjoy.”
Gary Wong, chair, Burnaby Board of Education said: “A playground is so central to the student experience that when the structure is past its prime, the entire school community feels the strain of it. This funding will be a tremendous benefit, resulting in three new playgrounds for our children and families to enjoy. On behalf of the Burnaby Board of Education, I want to extend our sincere appreciation to the Government of B.C.”
Laura Ward, chair, Burnaby District Parent Advisory Council said: “This government funding gives us a safe place for our kids to just be kids, and the value of that can’t be overstated. Additionally, our parent advisory councils are made up of volunteers with limited time. If we can take the focus off of fundraising for costly playground equipment, then we’re able to direct our resources into the school community where they can be most beneficial.”
Gina Niccoli-Moen, superintendent of schools, Burnaby School District sadi: “To understand how crucial playgrounds are to students, you need only drive by any one of our elementary schools at recess. As educators, we know how critical play is to a child’s development. This provincial investment is something our students will get value from each school day, and we appreciate how this will also benefit the wider community.”