The “diamond” play structure is the only current play space at E.J. Dunn Elementary School. NEWS FILE PHOTO

EJ Dunn Elementary in Port Alberni receives funding for play space

The funding is part of a new provincial Playground Equipment Program

Students at EJ Dunn Elementary School in Port Alberni are finally getting a new universally-accessible playground, thanks to $105,000 in provincial funding announced by the Ministry of Education this week.

READ: Alberni Valley school consults the experts

EJ Dunn principal Stacey Manson said they received the news over the phone from Mid Island-Pacific Rim MLA Scott Fraser on Tuesday, May 8. “When we shared the news with our entire school in the gym, the students were also super excited,” she said.

Because it was originally built as a middle school and only converted to an elementary school a few years ago, EJ Dunn lacks the play spaces that usually support early learning and active children. In 2017, the school’s Parent Advisory Council (PAC) entered the BCAA’s Play Here—an online voting contest that provides up to $100,000 for community play spaces. The school placed among the top 10 finalists, but was not selected as one of the final three prizewinners. Members of the PAC have been fundraising for the cost, so the province’s announcement was welcome news.

“We are extremely excited and have appreciated all the support from our community,” said EJ Dunn vice-principal Maghen Girard.

EJ Dunn PAC chair Shelby Kuhn also thanked the community for all of its support over the years. “We love our EJ Dunn School and are looking forward to the new play space,” she added.

Students at EJ Dunn already have plenty of ideas for a play space. Grade 1 student Mia Hopkins said she would like to see a slide and monkey bars, while her classmate Abby Cootes would like to see a “spiderweb” structure made out of ropes.

“I think it will be very fun,” said Hopkins. “We’ll have safer places to play with our friends.”

“It’s good because people won’t fall off the diamonds,” added Cootes, referring to the diamond-shaped play structure—EJ Dunn’s only playground equipment—outside of the school.

“We’re really excited that we’re going to be able to use the money that the government has given us,” said Manson. “But we also have dreams of having other physical literacy activities and games on school grounds. We’re going to continue to fundraise for that.”

Approximately $11,000 had been fundraised by the PAC as of January of this year, and the school held a “Play Day” on Jan. 20 to collect ideas and plans for a play space at the elementary school. Former parks, recreation and heritage manager Theresa Kingston helped to seek input from kids and community members and put together a “Student and Community Engagement Report” for the PAC.

“We got lots of really good information from community members,” said Manson. “The playground that we will be building will take in that input.”

The funding for EJ Dunn Elementary is part of a new, ongoing provincial Playground Equipment Program that will provide up to $5 million each year to school districts to purchase new or replacement playgrounds.

“The PAC at EJ Dunn has been fundraising for a new playground for years, an unacceptable burden for parents who just want a safe and accessible place for their kids to play,” said Scott Fraser in a press release. “We said we were going to fund school playgrounds so parents could focus on their children, and our government has delivered.”

The school will be forming planning, communications and further fundraising committees going forward. If you are interested in volunteering to be part of one of the committees, you can contact Manson at 250-720-1414.

elena.rardon@albernivalleynews.com

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

Students at E.J. Dunn Elementary School take part in a soccer workshop run by Travis and Melissa Cross on Thursday, May 10. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Students at E.J. Dunn Elementary School take part in a soccer workshop run by Travis and Melissa Cross on Thursday, May 10. ELENA RARDON PHOTO

Just Posted

Shipyard upgrade on Port Alberni’s waterfront means MV Frances Barkley retrofit happens at home

Canadian Maritime Engineering expands equipment to accept larger vessels

BUDGET 2020: City of Port Alberni department heads asked to justify costs

Faulty firefighter breathing gear, ballooning Uptown costs, train marketing all questioned

Port Alberni café, pair of teens rally support for Australia bush fire relief

Boomerangs Café plans three-day fundraiser; teens prepare to help in wildlife recovery

Agricultural Land Commission approves cannabis facility in Beaver Creek

Proposed facility outside Port Alberni had been caught up in ALR red tape

VIDEO: Nickelback gears up for nostalgia tour

Canadian band joins Stone Temple Pilots for a summer tour that includes just one stop in Canada

Province asks health-care staff to be ‘vigilant’ in screening for possible coronavirus cases

This comes after U.S. health officials confirmed a case of the virus in Washington State

Boy, 13, arrested after alleged assault involving girl at B.C. middle school

Boy alleged to have used ‘inappropriate levels of force’ to injure the girl

B.C. player becomes only second Canadian to enter Hall of Fame of Baseball

Walker received 76.6 percent of the Baseball Writers of America Association vote

PHOTOS: Heavy snowfall breaks window, causing avalanche into B.C. newsroom office

It was a chaotic start to the week for the Kitimat Northern Sentinel

Canadian law firm launches class action on behalf of Iran flight victims

Flight 752 was shot down by Iran shortly after take off

Mission Hill cellarman fired after mistakenly dumping $162K of wine down the drain

The former employee filed a grievance with the West Kelowna winery but was unsuccesful

Most Read