VICTORIA, BC: More than 14,000 B.C. students will soon have access to new, safe and accessible playgrounds as the Province doubles its annual investment in the Playground Equipment Program (PEP).
This increase will help schools design playgrounds that better support accessibility for all students.
“We cannot underestimate the vital link between play and learning. Students are more focused in class when outdoor play is part of their school routine, and they learn important life skills like co-operation and patience while improving their major motor skills,” said Jennifer Whiteside, Minister of Education. “Doubling our playground fund investment helps support students, staff, families and communities, and takes the fundraising burden off parents so they can spend more time playing with their children.”
This year, the PEP will invest $10 million in 60 new playgrounds in 50 school districts throughout the province. The funding for 2021-22 received a one-time $5-million boost compared to previous years. The funding for each project has also been increased by $40,000 to a total of $165,000 to better support accessible components – like ground cover, ramps and/or transfer platforms that connect to the play structure – to ensure a place for all students to play. Playgrounds will be built over the next year.
Since 2018, government has invested $25 million in the PEP to fund 201 new playgrounds, benefiting more than 49,000 students. This new funding builds on government’s commitment to provide safe learning environments for all students during the pandemic and in years to come, which has included the creation of outdoor classrooms in some districts.
Playgrounds encourage physical activity and healthy lifestyles while also encouraging children to share. They are a key factor in children’s development and learning as they help them develop conflict resolution skills and overcome challenges. Playing outside is also known to help reduce anxiety, improve focus and enhance student attention spans.
Every B.C. school district has now received at least one new playground through the PEP. 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.
School districts have the opportunity to apply for PEP funding from the ministry 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 reapply next year.
Written and released by BC Government