It takes a village to build a playground, and even more so during a pandemic.
Why does a school that already has a playground need another one? The teachers and parent volunteers at Robson Community School noticed that while the primary students still loved the old playground, it wasn’t designed to challenge or interest older kids. The intermediate students were more likely to be sneaking out their phones at recess than to climb and play. The PAC (Parent Advisory Council) decided to take on the challenge and build a newer, more exciting, and more accessible play area.
Unfortunately, playgrounds are seen as luxuries, and with tight education budgets, fundraising and grants were the only way to raise the money. If you’ve never priced one out, you might not know that a playground can cost as much as a small house. It took two years of grant writing, but the PAC was eventually able to gain the needed support to move ahead with the project. The equipment was bought and shipped, the installation date set.
Then COVID came to B.C. In a time of cancelled vacations and field trips the playground felt more important than ever. But then the bad news came. The planned volunteer installation was no longer possible under the new safety guidelines and the price of a professional install was more than the hard-earned grant money allowed for. Was the equipment going to sit, unused, in storage instead of fulfilling the dream of active, happy children?
But hard times have a way of pulling people together, and Habitat Systems, the company that produced and installed the playground, offered to do the full installation for thousands of dollars less than they usually would. Because of their kindness, the playground was installed over the summer of 2020, and the kids have been able to enjoy it for this school year. It’s been in constant use from school kids, and is a busy spot in the neighbourhood with children of all ages after school.
“We couldn’t have done this project without the support of our community,” said the Robson PAC. “We’d like to especially thank Mercer Celgar, Columbia Basin Trust, Tire Stewardship BC, Kootenay Savings Credit Union, The Regional District of Central Kootenay, and the Robson Community School Society for their generosity that made it possible. Because of them, our kids are out there smiling and playing every day.”