The McGirr Elementary School community is hoping that its bid for the Aviva Community Funding competition is selected. The school's parent advisory council applied

Two Nanaimo schools selected as finalists for community fund, with video

NANAIMO – McGirr and Quarterway elementary schools' projects are finalists for the Aviva Community Fund.

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

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