Mock-up of the future playground at McBride Centennial Elementary. /SUPPLIED

By Andrea Arnold

The students at McBride Centennial Elementary School will soon have a brand new playground. McBride is one of 60 schools across the province receiving a new playground this year as a result of the Province doubling its annual investment in the Playground Equipment Program (PEP).

A news release from the Ministry of Education reports that the funding for 2021-22 received a one-time $5-million boost compared to previous years. The funding for each project has also ncreased to a total of $165,000 to better support accessible components—like ground cover, ramps and/or transfer platforms that connect to the play structure—to ensure a place for all students to play.

“McBride Centennial was identified as a high priority playground by School District 57,” said Brett Apolczer, Directors of Facilities, School District No. 57. “It was one of the projects submitted to the Ministry of Education on the Board of Education’s Five-Year capital plan.”

He said the universal design of the new playgrounds is in compliance with accessibility measures as defined through the Canadian Standards Association for Children’s Playspaces and Equipment.

Five proposals were considered before the final plan was selected. The district was looking for ideas that allowed for accessibility and functionality for the broadest range of individuals possible.

“To include every child, the design considered physical, mental, intellectual, learning, communication or sensory impairment or functional limitations,” said Apolczer. “The supply and install of the adventure playground was awarded to Swing Time Distributors.”

The new playground will allow for better accessibility for wheelchairs and students with mobility limitations.

“Other features include physical play for climbing, clambering, sliding, hanging, balancing; motion play for swinging, spinning and swaying,” said Apolczer. “There are many other opportunities for sensory-rich play, imaginary and pretend play, social and parallel play, creative/cognitive play, and quiet and retreat play.”

The previous playground was removed a few days before school started, and the projected completion date of the construction was originally October 1st. However, material delays due to supply chain challenges mean installation has been pushed back into late October