Playground installed as memorial to brothers

NANAIMO – Seaview Elementary School students have a new playground to play on.

Bob Alyward

Bob Alyward

Seaview Elementary School students have a new playground to play on.

Dozens of parents, students and community members, including District of Lantzville councillors, volunteer firefighters, police officers and Rotary Club of Lantzville members banded together on a weekend two weeks ago to build a memorial playground at the school in honour of two brothers who died in an accidental house fire on Nanoose First Nation land in January 2012.

The playground is the result of six months of fundraising efforts by the Seaview parent advisory council last year. The community came together to raise the $50,000 needed in that short time frame.

“It’s overwhelming,” said Cherie Alyward, Seaview PAC chairwoman. “It was a lot of work and a lot of time. The amount of support from the community has just been unreal. The dream is a reality now; it’s in and the kids are loving it.”

About 80 people helped out on build day.

The structure includes two gliders, two slides, monkey bars and climbing walls. It is designed as a circuit, so students can go from one apparatus to another without stepping off the equipment and it is blue and green in honour of the boys’ favourite hockey team – the Vancouver Canucks.

Principal Patrick Young said with so many people helping, it only took about five or six hours from build to completion.

He said educators at the school have been talking with the students about how the playground allows them to remember the boys and how playgrounds can be good stress and worry relievers.

The whole process has shown how a community can rally at a time of tragedy, Young added.

Dave Elgie, a member of the Rotary Club of Lantzville, which gave parents $5,000 toward the new playground and sent eight volunteers to help with the build, said helping with the project was important to the group.

“When that tragedy struck, it was something that was on all of our minds,” he said, adding that since the club hosts an Easter egg hunt at Seaview each year, members were also aware of how old the former equipment on that site was.

The new playground replaces an aging, wooden structure at the school that was on the district’s top 10 priority list for replacement.

While this project is finished, fundraising efforts might continue.

Alyward said the PAC originally wanted to build two memorial playgrounds – one at Seaview and one on Nanoose First Nation land – and parents are waiting to hear if this second project is a go.