© Guardian photo by Thomas Becker
Jack MacKinnon hangs upside down on the new Spring Park playground equipment. in Charlottetown. The school unveiled their playground on Oct. 3 to an excited group of students.
It’s a time of celebration for Spring Park Elementary in Charlottetown.
After a two-year process, the school’s newly equipped playground had its grand opening Thursday for an excited crowd of students, parents, teachers and special guests.
“It was exciting when the kids came back after the summer holiday and they got to look out and see three enormous structures that they’re going to get to play on and climb over,” said principal Terry MacIsaac.
A parent-volunteer committee was formed to plan, coordinate and fundraise for a new playground area for the school shortly after the unexpected closure of the school in January 2011 as a result of mold accumulation.
Nothing was salvageable. The school was demolished, playground equipment was too old to keep and the 400-plus students were displaced over three schools — Parkdale, Birchwood and St. Jean.
“It was a sad day when the school closed,” said student Tobias Hood.
Funds from the new school budget didn’t include playground equipment, which was priced at $200,000.
The committee’s goal was to raise $40,000 for the K-2 structure and from there add additional structures as more money came in. A variety of fundraising activities included the sale of coupon books, a bottle recycle program, basket raffles, car wash and barbecue.
But with a number of corporate sponsors, most notably the donation of $112,500 from the Pat Morris Automotive Group of Discover Kia, Experience Hyundai, Discover Kia Summerside, and Subaru of Charlottetown, the committee was able to cover the cost of all of the playground equipment for the K-2 and 3-4 playground spaces, allowing the completion of the Spring Park playground project at one time.
“I’m not sure if we would have been able to fundraise and put this together had it not been for the community support. They were very generous,” said committee member Cindy Harris.
Morris has a special connection with the school. Three of his four children attend Spring Park so his decision to help was an easy one.
“From a business standpoint, in a small community it’s very important to be able to give back to the community, especially for a cause like this, where the kids are going to get enjoyment out of it,” he said.
Each structure has state-of-the-art equipment, specialized for the different age groups at the school. They’re also designed to meet the kids physical needs and help improve their motor skills, MacIsaac said.
For the students, they’re just excited to be back on a playground they love.
“The playground is amazing. At recess, we just go crazy on it. It has a lot of room for me and my friends and we have a good time on it,” Hood said.