More than 7,000 B.C students will have access to new, safe and accessible playgrounds as the Province invests in the Playground Equipment Program (PEP) for the fifth year in a row to support healthy and active lifestyles.
“Taking a break from the classroom and getting time outside to play gives children the opportunity to explore through play-based learning,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education and Child Care. “We know having space for kids to play safely is important for families and that’s why our government is committed to supporting students with accessible new playgrounds for many years to come.”
This year, the PEP will invest $5 million in 30 new school playgrounds for 24 school districts throughout the province. Each school district will receive $165,000 toward building each school’s new accessible playground. Playgrounds will be designed, built and installed over the next year.
“Playing outdoors has always been important for our children,” said Selina Robinson, Minister of Finance and MLA for Coquitlam-Maillardville. “By funding these playgrounds, we are investing in the education and well-being of children. I’m pleased that students and families in our Coquitlam community are receiving a much-needed safe, accessible new playground for the local community to enjoy.”
Since 2018, government has invested $30 million in the PEP to fund new playgrounds at 231 schools, benefiting more than 57,000 students and relieving parents of the pressure to fundraise for new playground equipment. This funding builds on government’s commitment to provide safe learning environments for all students in years to come, which has included the creation of outdoor classrooms in some districts.
Daily exercise and playing outside is important for growing young bodies and minds. Playgrounds encourage physical activity and promote healthy lifestyles while also encouraging children to share and develop conflict resolution skills. They provide children with the opportunity to move around, learn new things, reduce anxiety, improve focus, enhance attention spans and work on physical, social, emotional and sensory development.
Andrea Sinclair, president, BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils –
“Access to playgrounds tremendously benefits families, children with diverse abilities and disabilities, and is a perfect example of how we can create more inclusive communities. Parents appreciate the Playground Equipment Program as it eases pressure to fundraise and ensures accessible playgrounds are part of the school community.”
Michael Thomas, board chair, School District No. 43 (Coquitlam) –
“School playgrounds are an essential part of childhood development. We are grateful for the funding provided through the Government of B.C. Playground Equipment Program for this inclusive play structure here at R.C. Macdonald Elementary and the one at Minnekhada Middle. Outdoor, active play is vital to the health and well-being of our children and these structures will provide an active break for students during the school day and be a benefit for the whole community.”
Theresa Roberts, principal, R.C. MacDonald Elementary –
“Concepts like equity and inclusion sometimes feel intangible, but today, as we celebrate our new playground, we can see those principles in action. When we begin with equity in mind, we support all futures. On behalf of R.C. Macdonald Elementary, thank you for our new playground.”
Elaine Foo, president, R.C. MacDonald Elementary Parent Advisory Council –
“We are excited to have an inclusive playground that all our students can enjoy. We are thankful for everyone that worked hard to make this happen, and know that it will be well used by all in our school community.“
- This playground investment is a part of government’s school capital plan to ensure students have safe, positive learning and play spaces, no matter where they live.
- Budget 2022 includes a record $3.1 billion for new and improved schools for B.C. students over the next three years.
- Since September 2017, the Province has announced nearly $2.7 billion for school capital projects.
- This includes more than $1 billion to add more than 16,300 new student seats in B.C. schools, eliminating the equivalent of approximately 650 portables.
The Playground Equipment Program: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/administration/capital/programs
A backgrounder follows.