By Kenyon Stronski
Westwind Weekly News
Cardston Elementary School’s playground is over 50 years old, and as a result it’s slowly becoming more and more derelict — while simultaneously becoming more of a hazard for kids.
Jocelyn Wynder, the fundraising chair stated that fundraising for the new playground officially began in 2016 — however it wasn’t until around three years ago that they really began picking up the effort.
“We’ve worked with BDI to get a drawing for the playground and we’ve done a lot of fundraising. Family movie nights at the school, bunny bingo at Easter, concessions for our grades track and field and partners with Cardston Soccer and we did a concession there and we do a holiday market.”
Reiterating that the playground is either bordering or past 50 years old, Wynder said it doesn’t meet safety code standards as they’ve evolved over the years, and it’s becoming to be a hazard for the kids.
“There’s pieces of the equipment missing, it’s deteriorating because it’s made out of wood and so the kids are getting a lot of splinters, we’ve had broken bones and the hornets like to nest in the playground and that was a big problem a few years ago. It just got to the point where we were like ‘okay, we need to get a better playground for the kids’ and it was initiated by our old principal and three years ago we got a new principal but prior to that we were trying to figure out how to fundraise. COVID hit and it totally slowed down our fundraising and we had to cancel things too. But essentially our playground is old and it’s a hazard to our children in the community — getting a new playground benefits the whole town as well. There’s a few missing pieces in it as well, there’s a big hole in one piece and I didn’t grow up here so I thought that it was really weird — but it’s not supposed to be there. There used to be a lot of climbing equipment as well but parts of the equipment that are metal are bent and it’s just really old and it needs an upgrade.”
Fundraising can be a long journey for organizations, especially when trying to finance something that could be as expensive as a brand-new playground. Wynder commented that when they begun doubling their efforts in raising money three years ago, they were able to raise around $20,000 with all their fundraising and markets.
“We did one fundraiser where each class got a water bottle and they were to try and fill it with dimes because each water bottle is roughly $100 for each of those and so we’ve done that too. We’ve made a significant amount of money — we have a little over $200,000 as of now but we’re waiting to hear back from the CFEP(Community Facility Enhancement Program) grant which is the governments $125,000 matching. Our vice principal has been fabulous writing the grants and everything and so we have $100,000 out in grants that we’ve been waiting to hear back as well but we’ve had support from the Town, the County, the School Board, and local businesses to name a few. One of our committee members started a GoFundMe page which helps focus on alumni and people like that who are farther away and want to contribute.”
The fundraiser goal is $300,000 — and Wynder said at this point they’re sitting around $200,000 funds earned. Due to their fundraising being complete if the grants go through, they also have a tentative date in mind for when construction on the new playground can begin.
“We do have a date booked for the week of September 20 if we have all the funding in time to have the playground installed so we’re really hoping with these grants. It will push us there and get us ready so we don’t have to cancel that date.”
Wynder also mentioned the playground will be using rubber instead of wood chips, and that has brought the total cost of the playground to $376,000. “We were going to use wood chips but because the school doesn’t have a windbreak the chips would fly around everywhere and so we’re doing a rubberized playground and I think that added $100,000 or more.”
Wynder wanted to thank the community for being so supportive of their efforts and how thankful her and the fundraising team is for the amount of support they’ve received. “We recognize all the support we’ve had from everyone and we appreciate it so much.”
Currently there is three ways to donate to the new playground — through GoFundMe, ATB for the matching grant or you can email or bring in money to the Westwind School Division.
For more information, visit https://cesplayground.schoolsites.ca/donate-now.