The province annouces $165,000 to build an accessible playground at Ellison Elementary in Vernon. (Roger Knox - Vernon Morning Star)

Province funds new accessible park for Vernon school

Vernon School District receives $165K from B.C. government to fund project

Students at Vernon’s Ellison Elementary School will soon be playing on a new accessible playground.

The provincial government announced $165,000 in funding for the project, along with more than $4 million in funding for school upgrades and new buses for the Vernon School District.

“As a parent, I know how important it is for kids to have safe, accessible places to play outside with their friends,” said Harwinder Sandhu, MLA for Vernon-Monashee. “Our New Democrat government is providing funding for new playgrounds like this one so parents can do less fundraising for equipment and spend more time with their kids.”

The Vernon School District received $165,000 for this new accessible playground, up $40,000 from previous years. This increase will allow the playgrounds to be designed with accessible features like ground cover, ramps and/or transfer platforms that connect to the play structure – to ensure there’s a place for all students to play.

The playground will be built over the next year and is expected to be ready for kids to play on by early 2022.

“Playgrounds help kids stay active outdoors while learning to share, build conflict resolution skills and overcome challenges,” said Sidhu. “Playing outside reduces anxiety and improves focus, helping kids to learn in the classroom.”

This funding comes from the Playground Equipment Program (PEP), created in 2018 to reduce the burden of fundraising on parents and help communities buy the playground equipment students need.

Students and staff at Ellison are among those who will also benefit from upgraded and more energy-efficient learning environments, with $240.5 million in school maintenance grants distributed across the province this year.

The Vernon School District received $4,062,434 this year for projects which include:

• HVAC upgrades at Charles Bloom Secondary in Lumby and Clarence Fulton Secondary in Vernon:

• Roofing upgrades at Ellison Elementary;

• Building envelope upgrades at Lavington Elementary;

• Five new school buses for the district, including two electric school buses.

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