Wiltse Elementary School students, (from left to right) Mia Gillette, Calleigh Todd, Taylor Gillette and Cole Ingraham on the school playground which the parent advisory council plans to expand. Mark Brett/Western News

Wiltse PAC setting the bar high for new playground equipment

Wiltse Elementary PAC members hoping to raise $60,000 for new playground equipment

Wiltse Elementary School’s parent advisory committee is setting the bar high in an effort to raise funds to upgrade the playground.

A fundraising initiative by the PAC has set a goal of $60,000 to provide additional equipment to their current playground.

“It’s not that it’s that old of equipment, I think the problem is that our school has grown in the mean time. We have over 300 kids now and we just feel it would definitely be something beneficial to have an alternate area for kids to play in at recess and lunch,” said school principal Jeff Redden. “It is a big goal, equipment is very expensive and installation costs are expensive. It is a big undertaking and we’re definitely very happy that our PAC is pursuing this fundraising endeavour for sure.”

PAC chairperson Karla Ziegler admitted the fundraising goal is a lofty one,

“That’s a lot of bake sales alright,” she said with a laugh. “It didn’t start off that way (as big) but it just sort of took off and started a life of it’s own. The parents really wanted to see a full-on expansion of the playground, so that’s what we’re doing.

“Right now there’s more kids than playground equipment and this will give kids more options. Some kids just really want to climb and be on some structure. I’ve seen some kids try to climb the fence, so let’s get them something they can do to be safer.”

Redden is confident the PAC members will achieve their goal, pointing to the successful efforts of the PAC at Trout Creek Elementary when he was principal there.

“It’s an opportunity for kids to get more different play activities than a barren field with a soccer ball. It just adds to it and the more things we can do like that the better for the kids for sure. This will be something beneficial for kids for generations,” said Redden. “We have a real push in the province and our school to get more outdoor play areas where kids can go and actually play and develop their physical abilities, as well as help their mental ability by getting outside and getting some exercise. We don’t need them stuck behind screens all the time.”

The Wiltse PAC’s playground committee is currently in the process of sourcing multiple quality suppliers for quotes for equipment that is “safe for our youngest children but challenging and novel for our older students.”

To date the PAC has been able to allocate just over $15,000 from last year’s fundraising surplus with the goal of $40,000 by the end of 2019. The aim is to purchase and install the equipment in 2020.

Like other school playgrounds, the benefits of the playground go beyond the school boundaries according to the principal.

Related: B.C. invests $5M for new school playground equipment

“We have families that visit the school area here on the weekends and they utilize the playgrounds and I think not just in our own community but people that drive from other communities. I think it’s a benefit to the whole city really,” said Redden.

Related: École Entre-lacs a finalist in playground contest

Fundraising initiatives include seeking donations from families of Wiltse students, corporate sponsorships and a spring online auction.


 

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Jesleen Grewall and a friend have fun on some of the existing playground equipment during recess Tuesday at Wiltse Elementary School. Mark Brett/Western News

Wiltse Elementary School students enjoy recess on the school playground Tuesday. Mark Brett/Western News

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