“The children need it,” principal says of playground

Parents hope for new jungle gym for kids to monkey around on; need to raise $70,000

Story and photos by Casey Lessard

Concerns about safety and the prospect of a child who uses a wheelchair being unable to enjoy the playground have triggered a push by the Grand Bend Public School’s Home and School Association to fundraise for new playground equipment. With designs by Active Playground Equipment of Point Edward based on wish lists from teachers and parents, the association’s proposed equipment will cost $70,000 to make and install.
While some of the money may come from pending grants, fundraisers expect they will have to find most of it through donations from local businesses, community organizations and fundraisers.
“It’s a lot of money,” says Amy Wiseman, who is on the playground committee. “Half the price goes to making it wheelchair accessible. My hope is to have it by this summer, but it may be 2010.”
Wiseman is hoping a Hydro One grant for $25,000 comes through to excite others in the community.
“I’m hoping the community does step up. These are our kids and we’re doing this for the community.”
“It’s a great idea,” says principal Susan Manz. “The children need it. But it has to be safe and accessible to everybody.”
“There’s a small playground now that is about 15 years old,” Home and School Association president Andrea Matheson says. “The new one will be four times the size and wheelchair accessible. It’s quite an improvement, for sure.”
Currently the equipment services only kindergarten to Grade 3, and Grade 8s do a souvenir photo on the climber at graduation. There are limits to when the equipment may be used and also how long it is open in the fall and spring. The new equipment would extend all of the above, Manz said.
Despite previous reports to the contrary, the board of education will not be matching funds raised. The board’s beautification grant is about $5,000.
So far, fundraisers and requests have raised several thousand dollars, including fundraisers (Little Caesars Pizza Kits, Mabel’s Labels, and Ian’s Kitchen) and donations (Stewart Webb & Sons, and Grand Bend Women’s Institute). Tim Horton’s has committed to donating the proceeds of its Smile Cookie Campaign, Mac’s is putting a donation box on their counter, and Hayter’s Turkeys is donating food for a fundraising barbecue May 16.

To donate or for more information, contact Amy Wiseman at 519-238-1116 or Andrea Matheson at 519-238-1710.