Thousands more students benefit from new, accessible school playgrounds

More than 10,000 students will soon have access to new, safe and accessible playgrounds this school year, for a total of 35,000 students over three years, as the Province invests another $5 million to support the health and well-being of children.

“Children deserve fun, safe places to play at school, but parents are too often burdened with the task of raising the funds to build them,” said Premier John Horgan. “That’s why our government is investing another $5 million – the third investment in three years – to build playgrounds in B.C. communities that need them most.”

This year, 40 schools will receive a $125,000 investment towards purchasing a new, accessible playground. This represents a $25,000 increase for each playground from last year’s investment, made possible through the Playground Equipment Program (PEP). The PEP is a part of the Province’s commitment to update aging infrastructure in B.C. schools to provide safe, enjoyable and accessible learning environments.

“Now more than ever, outdoor play is incredibly important for our kids. I’m proud that students throughout the province have access to the outdoors on safe, accessible and modern playground equipment thanks to these investments,” said Rob Fleming, Minister of Education. “The PEP relieves parents of the burden of fundraising for playground equipment, so they can focus on their kids.”

Playgrounds help promote physical activity and healthy lifestyles, encourage children to share, develop conflict resolution skills and overcome challenges. Playing outside helps reduce anxiety, improves focus and enhances students’ attention spans.

The PEP was launched in 2018. Since then, government has invested $15 million to provide 141 new playgrounds to schools throughout the province, benefiting more than 35,000 students. Every school district has now received at least one new playground. The program relieves parents of some of the responsibility for fundraising for playground equipment and provides access to communities that do not have the fundraising capacity to buy the playground equipment students need.

“The BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils (BCCPAC) strongly commends the ministry for its continued support of local parent advisory councils, the recognition of the pressure on parents to fundraise to replace aging or non-existent playground structures and the hundreds of hours parents volunteer to ensure that their communities have play spaces,” said Andrea Sinclair, president, BCCPAC. “From the conception of this program, BCCPAC has long worked with the ministry to ensure that all new playgrounds are accessible for each and every one of our children. Parents strongly believe accessible playgrounds should not be dependent on the school community’s ability to raise funds. This program alleviates some of the inequities in the public education system.”

School districts have the opportunity to apply for the funding by sending a list of priorities in their capital plan submissions in June of each year. Playgrounds are funded based on greatest need. Priority is given to schools where there is no playground at all, then to schools where the existing playground is aging. School districts that did not receive funding this year may receive it next year if they reapply.

Quick Facts:

  • 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 2020 includes a record $2.8 billion for new and improved schools for B.C. students.
  • Since September 2017, the Province has announced more than $2 billion for school capital projects. This includes $749 million to add more than 13,000 new student seats in B.C. schools, eliminating the equivalent of about 520 portables.

Learn More:

The Playground Equipment Program:

https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/education-training/k-12/administration/capital/programs

Parents and families are encouraged to access resources on the Keep Learning website that support students learning from home:

https://www.openschool.bc.ca/keeplearning/

The BC Centre for Disease Control has helpful information for schools and families on COVID-19 safety at playgrounds:

http://www.bccdc.ca/health-info/diseases-conditions/covid-19/community-settings/playgrounds

For a French translation, visit: https://news.gov.bc.ca/releases/2020PREM0053-001813#translations

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