Thanks to the tremendous efforts of close to fifty dedicated community volunteers, the students and staff at W.E. Graham Community School in Slocan now have a newly installed playground.
The rain or shine installation turned into a three-day work party over the May 24-26th weekend for the townspeople of Slocan, who brought their wheelbarrows, shovels and enthusiasm. The event even became a reunion for some folks, like custodian Craig Roussian, who remembered installing the original structure 30 years ago when his children attended the school.
“The music and muffins kept the people going!” said Dayna Fidler, PAC President at WEG, who helped organize additional sponsor Save-On-Foods to donate supplies towards a barbeque to feed volunteers both days.
After several years of fundraising attempts to update the old playground equipment in Slocan, the Parent Advisory Committee at the school was overjoyed with the news of Ministry funding in 2018 to build a new play structure on school premises.
The $90K provincial grant awarded took the pressure off parents to continue campaigning for this project specifically. Efforts included extensive grant writing, creating videos and soliciting online votes in various competitions to try and raise playground funds.
Additional funds and CUPE staff resources were provided by the Kootenay Lake School District to disassemble and remove the old playground structure. By relying on volunteer labour to install the new equipment, more of the funds went directly towards the new equipment components.
“The parents worked in groups and put it together like a puzzle.” explained Principal Mike Hurley. Blue Imp Inc., a Canadian playground manufacturing company was chosen by the parent-led committee following a year of collecting input from families and students as to what kind of playground equipment they most wanted. “Swings were at the top of the list,” said Principal Mike Hurley, expelling the myth that swings were not allowed on school premises any longer. “All the kids are enjoying it, even the older kids are hanging around a bit more!”
And they are not done yet! Plans for a pump track are in the works, as well as ideas been generated around landscaping to provide more shade and seating for parents and grandparents. “We want to continue to make it more inclusive for everyone that comes to enjoy it.” said Fidler.