Central playground gets boost from Rotary

Families from downtown Chilliwack all get use out of school's playground areas

Central elementary principal

Central elementary principal

It would have taken years of bake sales for Central elementary to earn what they received as a gift this week.

Members of the Rotary Club of Chilliwack Mt. Cheam heard the downtown area school was in the beginning stages of fundraising for a new playground.

Their goal was $60,000.

The parent advisory council had held bake sales and plant sales, and even started a Go Fund Me account. They had written grant proposals, and have a few promising fundraising events planned for this spring. While they began the school year with zero dollars in the piggy bank, their efforts have already raised $20,000.

The Rotary members thought it over, and decided to help fund the playground with a further $20,000. It’s enough to get the project started and will allow the school and its parent advisory council to focus on other pressing needs.

“With just bake sales it would take a lifetime to raise the money you have given us,” said Central’s principal, Leslie Waddington, when Rotary Club members visited the school on Monday morning.

She took Marie Goldfinch, club president, and Rob Hasell, chair of club projects, on a tour of the current playground and showed them the plans for the one to be installed this summer. All of the wooden components will be removed by the end of the school year, she explained, leaving the current metal pieces in place. The entire groundworks will be removed and better drainage tile will be created, keeping kids’ feet dry on wet days when the playground pools with rainwater. The new playground will then be put in place, leaving space for the pieces they haven’t yet found the funds for.

The playground is a hub for families in the downtown area, during school hours, in the evenings and throughout the summer. The wooden structure was being removed anyway, and the lack of funds would have meant a gaping hole — and fewer opportunities for kids to be active.

“For many kids in this area, playing here is their whole summer holiday,” Waddington said. “Our playgrounds get used all the time.”

New modern playgrounds have a longer lifespan than their old, wooden predecessors. And since they’re built by selecting modules, they can be upgraded piece by piece when necessary.

Hasell said when they heard about the school’s need for a replacement playground, they knew it would be a good fit for the Rotary.

“We do one project every year, or many small projects,” he said. “When this came to our attention we knew we wanted to be involved.”

This week, the City of Chilliwack also announced they are granting $10,000 toward the project.