Grade 1’er Ryan Pasek chose to forego birthday gifts this year, instead asking friends and family to donate to a new playground at his school.
That generosity earned the young Peterson Road Elementary student the honour of cutting the ribbon when the new school playground was unveiled recently.
Three years in the making, and after $70,000 in money was raised, the vision of a new playground was realized at the rural school on 47th Avenue, explained Tina Upton, secretary of the elementary’s Parent Advisory Council (PAC).
“This playground is a perfect example of a community coming together to help benefit our future youth,” Upton said.
“Anytime we approached a community member, they jumped at the chance to help. The students are so proud to say that their mom or dad or papa helped build this playground. To know that their combined efforts to fundraise has ensured they have a safe place to play for years to come.”
The school opened in 1963, and Upton believes the playground was at least 40 years old and in desperate need of replacing.
The old playground was made up of swings, metal bars, wooden blocks, and monkey bars, she elaborated.
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The new playground was designed to be much more interactive and challenging, Upton said, fostering balance, eye-hand coordination, and agility with the inclusion of ropes, swings, a zipline, poles, and climbing boards.
The new playground – larger than its predecessor – is able to accommodate 150 students at a time. And while the playground is designated for intermediate grades (5 to 7), before and after school, as well as on weekends, it is open to children of all ages, Upton said.
A primary playground also exists at the school. It was installed about 10 years ago, replacing an old pirate ship, she added.
It is expected to last a long time, Upton said, grateful there’s, “no replacement in the near future.”
While work on the new playground was basically completed during summer, the unveiling didn’t happen until recently, allowing the PAC to arrange a celebration.
“This was our grand opening day of the playground to thank our Peterson Road community and to recognize all sponsors and everyone who donated their time,” Upton said.
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So many involved
“The build day was a wonderful event, we had parents, grandparents, teachers, principal, as well as older students helping with the construction and watching of the younger children while parents assembled the playground.”
Installing a new playground is a multi-faceted process that involves many volunteers, hundreds of hours, and a lot of unexpected work.
It involved investigating the process including building codes and school district rules, finding a design company, seeking students input, removing the old playground, organizing parental help, and even providing security over the newly installed playground, while the concrete set.
Besides all that, the PAC also held family fun nights, pub nights, entertainment book sales, and other school-based fundraisers. It also meant submitting grant requests, and soliciting help from larger donors, Upton explained.
It was a real team effort, she elaborated.
“We also benefited greatly” from some other community players Upton said had to be recognized for making it possible: On Line Collision Langley, Langley Rotary Club, Township of Langley, Matcon Civil Construction, RMC Concrete, RBC Murrayville, and the Peterson Road Community.