On Tuesday, April 12, 2022, Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture (right), Parksville-Qualicum MLA Adam Walker (centre) and Nanoose Bay Elementary School principal Kevin McKee (left) each spoke about the province's Playground Equipment Program and the recently completed accessible playground at the school. (Mandy Moraes photo)

Nanoose Bay Elementary School unveils new $165K accessible playground equipment

Upgrades part of B.C. government’s Playground Equipment Program

Students at Nanoose Bay Elementary School are among the thousands of students throughout the province who have access to new accessible school playgrounds to support healthy and active lifestyles for students.

Made possible through the Playground Equipment Program (PEP), the $165,000 investment for an accessible playground at Nanoose Bay Elementary School is part of the provincial government’s commitment to update aging infrastructure in B.C. schools.

“It’s great to celebrate this new playground at Nanoose Bay Elementary – another space in the community for children to play and families to come together,” said Adam Walker, MLA for Parksville-Qualicum, who was on hand at the school Tuesday (April 12) and gave the equipment a try himself. “Playgrounds give our children the physical exercise they need to stay healthy, along with lots of opportunities to learn to make friends and share with other children.”

READ MORE: B.C. invests $5M for new school playground equipment

“Playing is essential to everyone’s mental and physical health,” said Lana Popham, Minister of Agriculture during a tour of Central Vancouver Island. “Children need accessible, safe and fun places to play on their school grounds and within their communities. This playground investment will provide more opportunities for kids to go outside, be active and have fun.”

In 2019, Bowser Elementary School also received a new accessible playground through the Playground Equipment Program. The Nanoose Bay Elementary playground is the second completed in the region since the inception of PEP in 2018.

Nanoose Bay Elementary School principal Kevin McKee said the school’s new playground was completed in three parts with the final touches finished in early April. The Sof’Fall, an engineered wood-fibre surfacing designed specifically for play areas, is part of what makes the playground more accessible as it allows easier access for wheelchairs, said McKee.

Most schools with playground equipment in School District 69 (Qualicum) have already benefited from PEP, with Nanoose Bay Elementary being one of the last.

Since 2018, the government has invested $25 million to provide 201 new playgrounds to schools throughout the province. The program relieves parents of some of the responsibility for fundraising for playground equipment and provides access to communities that don’t have the fundraising capacity to buy the playground equipment students need. Last year, the PEP invested $10 million in 60 new playgrounds in 50 school districts throughout the province.

– NEWS Staff, submitted

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