School raises money for new playground

NANAIMO: Seaview Elementary School students are getting a new playground next spring.

Seaview Elementary School students are getting a new playground next spring.

Last February, the school’s parent advisory council launched a campaign to have a memorial playground built on the school site in honour of two boys killed in a house fire on Nanoose First Nation land in January.

After just months of fundraising, the community came together to raise the $50,000 needed.

“As of right now, we’re sitting at $45,000,” said Cherie Alyward, Seaview PAC chairwoman. “The Lantzville council will kick in the last $5,000. It’s overwhelming because my personal goal was to have it by October. I was told to raise that kind of money, it would be a three- to five-year process.”

The new playground, called Angels at Work, So Angels Can Play Memorial Playground, is in honour of the brothers who died Jan. 25 in an accidental fire on the reserve.

Alyward said the PAC expects to break ground next March so the family can be involved, as Snaw’Naw’As culture prevents the family from celebrating the boys’ lives until a year after their death.

“We want them to be a part of it because it’s for the boys,” she said.

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

“We’ve been told by the school district that we have to replace it,” said Alyward. “You can see the rust starting.”

To pick the new structure, parents short-listed the choices last spring to four designs, which were narrowed down to two by the boys’ parents. Then children voted on the winner.

The favoured design features two gliders, bridges, climbing features, slides and monkey bars and the structure will be blue, green and off-white, the colours of the boys’ favourite hockey team, the Vancouver Canucks.

Alyward said the money came from a large number of individuals and organizations in Lantzville and outside of the community – as far away as Ottawa.

Principal Patrick Young said the success of the campaign shows how passionate the community has been about this issue.

“It definitely has brought everyone together, working towards a common goal,” he said.

Parents hope to fundraise to build a second memorial playground on Nanoose First Nation land.

“We’re waiting to see if that’s what they want,” said Alyward.