North Delta’s Richardson Elementary will be getting a new accessible playground thanks to a $165,000 grant from the provincial government.
The province announced the funding April 29, with Richardson one of 30 schools across 24 districts selected to receive money for new accessible playgrounds to be designed, built and installed over the next year. In total, B.C. is investing $5 million this year through its Playground Equipment Program (PEP).
“Taking a break from the classroom and getting time outside to play gives children the opportunity to explore through play-based learning,” Education Minister Jennifer Whiteside said in a press release. “We know having space for kids to play safely is important for families and that’s why our government is committed to supporting students with accessible new playgrounds for many years to come.”
On Friday (May 6), the district held an assembly at Richardson to celebrate the funding announcement.
Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon, who took part in Friday’s ceremony, said he was proud to be able to share the news with the Richardson community.
“We know that it’s vitally important for kids to play, and we know now through the pandemic how important our outdoor facilities are, not only for recreation but also mental health for our young people,” Kahlon told the Reporter. “By building this new playground, by committing to building [these] facilities, we’re giving our young people an opportunity to play, to be outside with their friends, in a safe environment.”
Richardson is the fourth North Delta elementary school in five years to receive funding for a new playground, following Jarvis Traditional in 2020, McCloskey in 2019 and Chalmers in 2018. While this latest playground has yet to be designed, it is planned to be fully accessible and include “adventure-style” equipment that can accommodate all ages.
Kahlon said Richardson getting this new playground is exciting news for the “heart of North Delta,” complimenting recently completed community amenities such as the track facility at North Delta Secondary and the North Delta Centre for the Arts, which is having its much-delayed grand opening this Saturday (May 14).
“[There’s] a lot happening in the area,” he said.
Kahlon also gave a shout-out to Delta school board chair Val Windsor and her fellow trustees for doing their part to make this investment happen.
“They keep creating good lists and good business cases of why playgrounds in our community need upgrading, and whenever dollars come up they’re quick to apply and take those opportunities,” he said.
Windsor took the opportunity Friday to pass on her thanks to Whiteside, saying having a new accessible playground will benefit not only the school but the community at large.
“You can look at the North Delta [Secondary] track; that place is busy all the time with people walking around it, and not just students,” Windsor said.
“The other thing of course is we know playgrounds bring communities together, and we know that after two years of physical distancing and all the perils of the pandemic that to be able to get together as a community is crucial. So it will renew all those friendships and promote new ones, and just the benefit to the community is huge.”
For Grade 6 students Logan, Keira and Devinjit, Friday’s announcement was exciting news, if a tad bittersweet.
“It’s actually going to be quite sad because I’ve had lots of memories there and lots of kids like it, but also its falling apart — well, there’s lots of rust,” Devinjit told the Reporter.
“I’m very excited to see how it’s going to look,” Logan added.
Though all three of them will have moved on to high school by the time the playground is installed, the trio know the kind of impact it will have for others at the school.
“When we got the ‘new’ playground [in 2016] — we still call it the new playground because it’s the newest for us — everybody wanted to play on it because it’s not, like, the same-old, same-old,” Keira said.
“Everyone just wanted to play on it because it was brand new,” Devinjit continued. “I’m just imagining the crowd that will be at the new playground [when it opens].”
“When you think about it, it was really new to us that new playground, but to [the younger kids] it’s kinda like, oh yeah, that’s the playground that’s been here basically since we’ve been alive,” Logan said.
“We won’t be here when it’s done but my brother will be, and I think he’s going to be quite happy with the new playground, and lots of the younger students [will be too],” Keira said.
And since the new playground will also be fully accessible, “I feel like a lot of the kids here that might not have been able to use it before will be elated,” Logan said.