Extension embraces playful purpose

Rural community's nearest playground is 10 kilometres away

Jace Brahniuk enjoys the inflatable water slide during a kickoff event for the Extension playground fundraising campaign earlier this month.

Jace Brahniuk enjoys the inflatable water slide during a kickoff event for the Extension playground fundraising campaign earlier this month.

Jenn Stringer likes to spend time outside with her three young children.

But if she wants to take them to a playground, the Extension resident has to pack the kids in the car and drive to another community.

“We live out in the middle of nowhere – we’re constantly driving,” said Stringer. “It would be nice to be able to go to a local park and meet some of the moms in our area.”

After talking with friend and fellow Extension resident Anita Pangborne-LaHue, the two launched a fundraising campaign for a playground in the rural community.

“There are a lot of families in the area with children,” said Pangborne-LaHue.

The nearest park – in Cinnabar Valley – is about 10 kilometres away.

When Pangborne-LaHue and Stringer began knocking on doors to see if their playground idea would be supported, they found many parents with young children don’t have access to a vehicle during the day and would love a playground they could walk to.

The pair took their plan to the Extension and District Recreation Commission, which receives a grant from the Regional District of Nanaimo to maintain the baseball fields and community hall on a large piece of property in the area.

The commission agreed to maintain a playground should the campaign raise enough money to build it.

The effort will need $20,000 to purchase the playground equipment, said Pangborne-LaHue, and the women hope to get community members to donate the time, labour and machine costs to prep the site and install the equipment.

Besides the families in the area, Pangborne-LaHue said the playground would be used by families outside Extension – baseball teams from all over Nanaimo play on the ball fields and some Extension residents have grandchildren who visit frequently.

The women held their first fundraising event at the proposed playground site on Sept. 3, which raised $500.

The next fundraiser is a bottle drive today (Sept. 24) at the Extension Community Hall.

The pair also plan to present their proposal to businesses and service groups.

“We hope to make the $20,000 by next spring so we can have the park installed next summer,” said Pangborne-LaHue.

Both women are on maternity leave, she added, which is another reason they hope to have the fundraising completed next spring.

For more information about the campaign, please call Pangborne-LaHue at 250-753-7187, Stringer at 250-741-8515 or e-mail parkproject2011@gmail.com.