The parent advisory council for McGirr Elementary School has its fingers crossed, as its project has been selected as a finalist for the Aviva Community Fund.
Aviva, an insurance company, is holding a competition and $1 million is up for grabs for projects across Canada intended to strengthen the community. The McGirr council is hoping to receive up to $50,000 for upgrades to the school’s primary playground, including ones for wheelchair accessibility.
“The biggest piece is resurfacing our playground because it’s sort of old dusty dirt gravel … it’s not accessible at all to anybody with mobility problems so we want to fix that,” said Twyla Spoke, council organizing committee head. “It would be pour-in-place rubberized surfacing that’s being used at a lot of playgrounds with a combination of wood fibre chips.”
Playground equipment, such as equipment specific to children in wheelchairs, specialized swings, Weenotes, playground musical equipment, and stepping blocks, which could double as a gathering place for teachers and students, are also part of the project.
“Then, of course, we just want to add a bit more actual equipment that’s sort of more typical equipment, possibly another slide, a couple of more regular swings, and some climbing structures just to provide more for the student population.
“McGirr’s grown a lot, so we’re up to 200 primary students and it’s not just quite enough equipment out there right now,” said Spoke.
The entire project would cost $104,000 and the council has raised about $42,000 through fundraisers and other grants.
Ecole Quarterway Elementary is also a finalist from Nanaimo for its project to replace aging playground equipment.
Parents and Quarterway staff hired a landscape architect, who designed a “sustainable” nature-inspired playground that encompasses the school’s landscape and includes slides, climbing walls, a small outdoor classroom, trees, logs and more.
“The idea of a nature-inspired playground is to bring the imaginative play back for children,” said Emily Monpetit, a Quarterway parent, in a previous interview. “A rock can be a stage, a log can be a boat. It’s really not that straightforward kind of playing. It’s bringing them back to using their imagination.”
A panel is currently reviewing applications from 30 finalists and is expected to announce the winner Dec. 6.
According to Aviva’s competition website, there are 30 finalists.
– with files from Nicholas Pescod