New accessible playground equipment has been installed at Lax Kxeen Elementary School making a safer more inclusive environment to jiggle the wiggles out of students at outdoor time.
Thanks to a partnership between the school’s Parent Advisory Committee (PAC), Prince Rupert Port Authority (PRPA) Community Investment Fund, and SD 52 as well as other local partners, the recycled rubber surface of the playground welcomes both wheels and feet so navigation can be accessed by people of all abilities.
The $70,000 contribution from the PRPA, announced on May 17, bolstered the funds of the $250,000 project allowing for equipment such as a carousel with seats. This is accessible for all abilities, such as those using a cane, walker or wheelchair.A slide, monkey bars, rope climber, and the unique feature of a hill with rock-like half-moons for climbing or playing ‘the floor is lava’ games make outdoor fun more attractive and provide the opportunity for occupational therapy.
Due to the previous aging equipment not facilitating the various needs of the school, or community families the PAC took the initiative to create a more user-friendly space.
“Having a safe and accessible outdoor space is imperative to making all members of our school community feel welcome and included … We are able to give children of all physical abilities a place to play,” Natalie McLean vice-chair of the Lax Kxeen PAC, said.
The play-place was designed with the leadership assistance of James Wintle, SD 52’s occupational therapist who selected the multi-ability equipment.
“During the pandemic, we’ve seen children experience more sedentary time because many activities have been cancelled,” Wintle said.
“This playground is getting kids back outside, excited to move their bodies and providing them with opportunities to target different muscles and develop their motor planning skills,” he said.
Shaun Stevenson, president and CEO of PRPA said they recognize learning through play is an essential part of childhood development.
“By building safe spaces like the Lax Kxeen Elementary School accessible playground, we are creating chances for kids to strengthen their bodies and minds alongside their peers,” Stevenson said.
An official opening ceremony with a list of all the donating organizations will be celebrated at a later date when it is safe to do so and health restrictions ease, Susan Kobza, principal of the school, said.
K-J Millar | Journalist
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