Thousands more students will soon have access to new, safe and accessible playgrounds that support play and health as the Province continues to support the Playground Equipment Program (PEP) for a sixth year.
“Playgrounds are excellent for our kids’ physical and mental health, and are spaces where they can be themselves and express their fun-loving nature,” said Rachna Singh, Minister of Education and Child Care. “Our government is helping communities throughout the province with better access to modern playground equipment that will benefit everyone.”
This year, the PEP will provide $5 million toward 25 new school playgrounds across 25 school districts. The Province has increased the amount of funding that school districts will receive per playground to $195,000. Playgrounds are expected to be designed, built and installed over the next year. The program significantly reduces parent-led fundraising that was previously needed to help build playgrounds.
Playgrounds promote physical activity, while encouraging students to share and develop conflict-resolution skills. They also provide students with opportunities to learn new things, reduce anxiety, improve focus, increase attention span, and enhance gross-motor, social, emotional and sensory development.
Since 2018, government has supported students and families with $35 million for new playgrounds at 256 schools, benefiting more than 63,000 students. This funding builds on the Province’s commitment to provide safe learning environments for all students.
Budget 2023 includes $3.4 billion for school capital projects over the next three years, including new and expanded schools, seismic upgrades and replacements, and land purchases for future schools. Since September 2017, the Government of B.C. has announced $3.2 billion for new and improved schools, as well as land purchases for future schools throughout the province. This includes adding approximately 20,000 new student spaces and 33,000 seismically safe seats at B.C. schools.
Harwinder Sandhu, MLA for Vernon-Monashee –
“Playing is essential to every child’s mental and physical health. The Alexis Park community’s playground has provided a safe place where children and families can play, create adventures and grow together for many more years to come.”
Chris Schultz-Lorentzen, president, BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils –
“PACs have historically taken on this task through massive fundraising efforts. Accessible playgrounds and outdoor play areas not only provide options for physical activity but are also an important venue to promote and encourage social engagement and development that benefit students, staff, families and the whole community. Aging, outdated or absent outdoor play equipment is a constant challenge, and this continued fund will help improve and address those issues.”
Gen Acton, board chair, School District 22 (Vernon) –
“We are delighted to be part of the Playground Equipment Program. Since this project has been completed, we have seen not only Alexis Park Elementary families using it, but the entire neighbourhood in the evenings, and people from across the city on weekends.”
Cordell Ware, principal, Alexis Park Elementary –
“Alexis Park students love their new playground and we have seen positive changes in mental health and engagement since it has been completed.”
Laura Tifenbach, PAC chair, Alexis Park Elementary –
“Our children get to play on excellent equipment. It is great to hear them laugh and wonderful to see them all having a great time. It has become a place for the community to come together and enjoy play.”
The Playground Equipment Program: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/administration/capital/programs
A backgrounder follows.