Students at North Delta’s Jarvis Traditional Elementary will soon be playing on a new accessible playground thanks to $165,000 in funding from the provincial government.
The funding is part of a $10-million one-time investment in the government’s Playground Equipment Program (PEP) — double that of previous years. The money will allow for the construction of 60 new playgrounds across 50 school districts.
“We cannot underestimate the vital link between play and learning. Students are more focused in class when outdoor play is part of their school routine, and they learn important life skills like co-operation and patience while improving their major motor skills,” Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside said in a press release.
“Doubling our playground fund investment helps support students, staff, families and communities, and takes the fundraising burden off parents so they can spend more time playing with their children.”
The Delta School District is among the districts receiving $165,000 for a new accessible playground, up $40,000 from similar investments made in previous years.
According to a press release from the province, the increase in funding for the 2021-2022 school year will allow for the new playgrounds to be designed with accessible features like ground cover, ramps and/or transfer platforms that connect to the play structure, ensuring there’s a place for all students to play.
The playgrounds will be built over the next year and are expected to be ready for kids to play on by early 2022.
“All children deserve equal access to play,” Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon said in a press release. “I am proud our government is putting the needs of children and schools first by investing in more accessible playgrounds.”
Since 2018, the government has invested $25 million in the PEP to fund 201 new playgrounds, benefiting more than 49,000 students. The program relieves parents of some of the responsibility for fundraising for playground equipment and supports communities that do not have the fundraising capacity to buy the playground equipment students need.
School districts have the opportunity to apply for PEP funding from the Ministry of Education each year. Playgrounds are funded based on greatest need, with priority given to schools where there is no playground at all, then to schools where the existing playground is aging. School districts that did not receive funding this year may reapply next year.
With this year’s round of funding, every B.C. school district has now received at least one new playground through the program.