Students at 51 schools throughout the province will have new playgrounds when they return to school in September, as part of a new playground fund that will take fundraising pressure off of parents, announced Premier John Horgan.
Premier Horgan has said that “All students deserve quality, safe and accessible playgrounds at school, regardless of how much their parents can fundraise. That’s why we’re lifting the burden off of parents by investing $5 million today, and every year moving forward, to build playgrounds where they are needed most.”
This funding is part of a new, ongoing Playground Equipment Program that will provide up to $5 million each year to school districts to buy new or replacement playground equipment. This year, 26 schools are receiving $90,000 for a standard playground, and 25 schools are receiving $105,000 for a universally accessible playground.
“I’ve heard from parents that they need relief from fundraising tens of thousands of dollars for playground equipment – that’s a lot of bake sales and bottle drives for today’s busy parents,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “Today, we’re delivering this fund to help parents, and provide access to communities that don’t have the fundraising capacity to buy the play equipment students need.”
Generally, schools’ parent advisory councils (PACs) have to fundraise large sums of money for new and replacement playground equipment. Schools without that capability are often left without playgrounds.
“This new program will alleviate some of the inequities in parent fundraising, and enable PACs to strengthen their advisory and advocacy roles,” said Jen Mezei, president, B.C. Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils. “Parents have advocated for this for over a decade, and we thank the government for the ongoing commitment. We believe that safe and accessible playgrounds should not be dependent on a school community’s ability to raise funds, and for too long have felt the burden to ensure schools and school communities have safe and engaging play spaces.”
Districts applied for the funding in April 2018, and playgrounds are being funded based on greatest need. Priority is given to schools where there is currently no playground, and then to schools where the existing playground is aging. Districts that did not receive funding this year will receive funding next year, if they apply for it.
Budget 2018 includes a record $2 billion in school capital funding over the next three years, to invest in building new schools in growing communities, fixing aging schools and making schools safer for students in the event of a large earthquake.
Playgrounds are important for children’s development and learning. They encourage outdoor physical activity, and help students learn how to share, work together, overcome challenges and be creative. Outdoor play can help students focus and learn more effectively in the classroom.