It has been proven that anything that is in good condition and glistens in the light will captivate a person’s attention, even if it is only for a short duration. That fact was obvious last Friday when the installation of new playground equipment was completed at Sidney Street School.
I did not have to work that day and was able to help out. The climbing apparatus with its bright colours and geometric shapes immediately caught my eye. I desperately wanted to test it out to ensure it was safe for children, but it needed to be leveled and then secured in place by concrete. The task of leveling the intricate structure was slow and tedious. It was like trying to level a three-dimensional puzzle or spider web since an adjustment on one pillar or support would cause a ripple effect in the other pieces of the structure to which it was connected.
I can only imagine the challenge the group of workers faced when they assembled the structure the day before. It is estimated that up to 30 volunteers worked on the project each day. The fact it took only four days to fully assemble the equipment was surprising since six days were allocated for the process. Such efficiency is a sign of a hard-working group of individuals who are well co-ordinated. Lunch was provided on site which was truly appreciated by all the workers. It also allowed the volunteers a chance to socialize and relax.
I expected the task of pouring concrete would be back-breaking and awkward in such an intricate array of posts and beams. However, the job went fast and smooth as there were seven or eight guys on wheelbarrows. Concrete had to be shoveled into inaccessible areas and a clean-up crew completed the job by wiping down the playground equipment to ensure it was smooth and free of concrete.
The job of contacting potential workers and organizing a work schedule was critical to the successful completion of the $165,000-project. That role fell upon April Bauer who rose to the challenge and dressed for the occasion by wearing a pink tool belt at the work site. Thanks to the generous support of people, organizations, municipal governments and businesses, the playground fundraising committee is close to its goal of raising $105,000 for the purchase and installation of the equipment. Chinook School Division is also contributing $60,000 to the project for the removal of the old equipment and addition of borders and surfacing. As of May 9, the addition of pea gravel (one foot deep) at ground level was the next step in the process.
The total cost of the playground equipment is a little hefty, but it is totally safety compliant and is constructed of high-quality material that will last for generations. Therefore, I suggest the perimeter fence which kept children out of the construction area should be retained and converted to an electric fence. The addition of a coin-operated entrance could serve as an effective method of recovering project expenses.
I am sure children will gladly pay a quarter to play on the apparatus or use one of the many swings during noon hour. Twenty-five cents is not a lot of money, but multiply it by the number of children at Sidney Street School and then consider the gross annual income that could be generated. Now multiply that number by a couple of generations and the term “fundraising project” takes on a new meaning. We live in a user-pay society and children need to learn that lesson early in life, so why not start with access to a state-of-the-art playground?
Unfortunately, I missed the job of testing the new equipment which may be serendipitous since it would likely have led to the first injury on the apparatus or the first case of bullying by an adult. Controlling access to playground equipment could also be used for behaviour modification which could possibly eliminate bullying. Of course, quality video cameras and a surveillance system will be required for that purpose and a quality system with a computer recorder and DVD burner is expensive. Therefore, I suggest we begin fundraising as soon as possible!