The joyful din of children enjoying their lunch hour at Quadra Elementary on Tuesday was the ideal backdrop for the official opening of the school’s new accessible playground.
The playground, with a spinning dome as its central element, is part of a provincial program announced last spring with $5 million in annual funding. There were 51 playgrounds built in the first year, and now with another $5 million, the goal is to build 50 more this year.
At Quadra, student reviews so far are positive. Grade 5 student Hannah Oliver said the new playground means a lot to her.
“I like it because it brings us all together and we’re all equal when we’re on the playground,” she said, adding her favourite part is the spongy play surface.
“I like to bounce on it.”
In the first few days the playground was available, she said, classes had to use it in shifts “because everyone wanted to be on it.”
Quadra principal Marilyn Campbell said the $105,000 for the playground project comes courtesy of the Ministry of Education, while the recycled rubber for the base is from Tire Stewardship B.C., a non-profit group.
Education Minister Rob Fleming said an important part of the provincial program is that parents will no longer have to fundraise for playgrounds at their children’s schools.
“They can focus on the needs of the kids and the school community,” he said.
“The playground-equipment program is going to continue for years into the future, so that every kid in British Columbia — and there’s 25,000 schoolkids now who are enjoying play equipment like this — will be able to have access to universally acceptable playground equipment.”
Greater Victoria school board trustee Angie Hentze said the new equipment is far better than what she had when she was in elementary school, and more inclusive.
“The district’s working very hard to create inclusive spaces where all students have the opportunity to learn, grow and play, and this playground just shows a great example of those flexible and accessible resources where everybody has an opportunity to engage.”
Within Greater Victoria, money for accessible playgrounds from this year’s funding has been approved for Braefoot Elementary in Saanich, Eagle View in View Royal, Savory in Langford and Sidney Elementary.
All playgrounds receiving funding for this year are expected to be ready by fall.