University Highlands cuts ribbon on new playground
Students at University Highlands elementary on Burnaby Mountain cut the ribbon on a new rocket-themed playground recently, thanks to community fundraising support.
The project started months before the school opened in September 2010 as part of the UniverCity community, next to Simon Fraser University. That's when the school's new parent advisory council started a playground committee.
After consulting with staff, students, parents and the UniverCity community about what it wanted to see, it worked with Burnaby-based supplier Habitat Systems Inc. to come up with a design that would make the most of the limited space, appeal to both primary and intermediate kids and embody the school's themes of "inquiry, sustainability and community involvement," said a press release from the school.
With a fundraising target of just over $100,000, the committee managed to make it through to the semi-finals in voting for the national 2010 Aviva grant competition. While it didn't win a grant, the media coverage and word of mouth gave the project enough attention that other organizations offered to help.
The Burnaby Mountain Business Association (BMBA) hosted a fundraising dinner. Burnaby Mountain’s Nesters Market and its parent company Buy-Low foods offered a $35,000 matching grant. The matching money came from parent and community donations and from local businesses and developers including, Porte Development, Liberty Homes, ScotiaBank, the BMBA, Mosaic Homes, The Five Point and Charlatan Restaurants, and Kinder Morgan.
They received the final amount needed to complete the project from the provincial government which, in a surprise announcement, provided a $32,000-grant to the school as part of its playground renewal initiative. The Burnaby school district installed the equipment over the summer and the new playground was ready for the students on the first day of school.
“Many schools work diligently for years to raise the funds necessary for a playground," said Laura D'Amico, chair of the PAC's playground committee. "We are incredibly lucky and grateful to have such a lovely play structure in place in just two years.”
University Highlands elementary currently has 195 students. The new playground has become a meeting place for UniverCity residents, whose children use it outside school hours.
“Play is essential to students’ physical and social development," said school principal Lori Druissi. "We are thrilled to have a structure in place that is both accessible and offers a wide variety of play opportunities. It is with deep gratitude to all our contributors that we celebrate its completion.”