Above, Mia Hopkins, 6, displays her design for play spaces at EJ Dunn. Left, Corina Ambrose does a video interview with her sister Robyn, a Grade 6 student at EJ Dunn elementary, during Play Day on Saturday. MIKE YOUDS PHOTOS

Alberni Valley school consults the experts

EJ Dunn Elementary School takes a playful approach to play spaces

By Mike Youds

Special to the News

If at first you don’t succeed, go back to the drawing board and consult the experts.

That was the idea behind Play Day at EJ Dunn Elementary School on Saturday, Jan. 20, when staff and volunteers hosted a planning exercise fuelled by fun and enthusiasm.

“We’re drawing on interest and support in designing a play space,” explained Felicia Randall, a Grade 1- 2 teacher. “It’s really exciting and the kids here are excited as well.”

Originally a junior high school and a middle school before it became an elementary and preschool three years ago, EJ Dunn lacks the play spaces that usually support early learning and active children.

Last year, the school’s PAC made a pitch for charitable funding by entering the BCAA Play Here, an online voting contest that provides up to $100,000 for community play spaces. They placed among the Top 10 finalists but were not among the three winners.

This year, they’re sharpening their pencils with help from the experts — children in the school’s community. And they’re bound and determined to make the play spaces happen for the entire community.

“Our PAC has been working really hard at it,” said Stacey Manson, school principal. “They really wanted us to make a commitment to do something this year.”

So far, about $11,000 has been raised and the PAC intends to enter the BCAA contest again, this time with more concrete plans. In the meantime, they plan to approach community groups for additional support.

A series of play stations set up Saturday succeeded in sparking creativity among the kids ranging from preschoolers to intermediate students, who had an opportunity to contribute to school improvement for their younger peers.

“Truly our focus is on collecting as many really, really good ideas as we can,” Manson said.


Corina Ambrose does a video interview with her sister Robyn, a Grade 6 student at EJ Dunn elementary, during Play Day on Saturday. MIKE YOUDS PHOTO

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