A group of South Surrey moms say a lack of space has divided students using Morgan Elementary’s playground.
Andrea Janssen and Kym Parsons said the school’s 372 students had to enjoy the apparatus in shifts throughout the last school year, with primary students using the playground Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and intermediate children using it Tuesday and Thursday. The separation caused a noticeable rift between the age groups, Janssen said.
“It’s not a large playground for the amount of kids we have at our school. We have noticed it has caused a division,” the former teacher said.
“You don’t want that. You want the older kids interacting with the younger kids.”
Janssen and Parsons are among a group of concerned parents who are fundraising for the nearly $100,000 needed to update the facility and put an end to the shift system.
Parsons noted that for the older kids, not having the playground each day isn’t causing a huge impact, but for the younger age group, which ranges from kindergarten to Grade 3, it is difficult to enjoy their school breaks.
“They have the grass and a dirt pit they can play with and that’s it,” she said.
Janssen – who has sons in Grade 2 and Grade 6 – said that she has seen firsthand the importance of having older children take on the role of mentors for younger students, similar to a buddy program. But with the separate shifts, those relationships are not formed, she said.
“I think play is so important. A lot of money goes towards computers and technology each year, which we need, obviously. But I think play is just as important for children’s imagination and physical activity,” she said.
So far, in partnership with the school, they have raised $56,000, but Parsons said the parents are getting tapped out.
“We can’t keep going to the same parents, over and over again, and ask for more money until we reach $100,000. It’s just not fair,” she said.
The group is now appealing to local businesses and developers to help bring the playground expansion to fruition.
Those who donate will have their names engraved on plaques that will stand at the playground.
“We are wanting this to happen this year because we’ve been saying we want this done for a while,” Janssen said.
“The kids are upset. They want a playground where they can all play together.”
For more information or to donate, email firstname.lastname@example.org