EDITORIAL: Playgrounds key to learning

RAISING CASH for equipment shouldn’t fall on shoulders of parents.

New schools are always cause for celebration and fanfare, but often overlooked is a fact that they are incomplete – they don’t come with playground equipment.

Provincial funding covers the bricks and mortar of school buildings, but not the ancillary but equally vital pieces outside that give young children places to play and stay active.

The challenge is the same for existing schools with outdated playground equipment.

Given the broad and increasingly accepted understanding that physical activity – including playful, unstructured activity – is crucial to the development of healthy young minds and  optimal learning conditions, it seems an odd oversight to leave money for play structures out of the equation.

Granted, the province took steps last fall to remedy the omission, when it announced $8 million toward ensuring schools have safe, adequate playgrounds. But that commitment is likely inadequate.

So far, through two rounds of funding announcements, no Nanaimo schools have made the cut.

Yet there is no question we have parent groups and school communities desperately striving for dollars to replace, augment or in some cases simply install play structures.

Other schools in communities across B.C. are in the same boat.

Active children are more likely to be healthy children, both physically, mentally and emotionally.

Active children are more prepared and able to learn in a classroom environment.

Those facts are accepted and understood, so why, if healthy activity and play is a vital part of the education system, is that system leaving it to parents to ensure that part of the equation is addressed?