IRON RIVER - It's more than just a playground, it's the hub of their community.
The play structure at Iron River School has seen better days, and after 25 or more years it's time for an upgrade.
“We’ve been told to get our ducks in a row because they don’t have money to replace those playgrounds and we’re worried that at some point it will be deemed unsafe and we would have no playground, so we wanted to get one this,” explained chair of Iron River School's Parent Advisory Council Jennifer Wakculchyk.
A big part of getting the project off the ground was getting their students involved.
"We showed them different features and asked them what they were wanting. Once we had narrowed it down in terms of what their wants were, we had a couple of designs from two different companies. We took that back to the kids and they picked their favourite," Wakculchyk said, adding now they're in the process of fundraising and applying for grants.
The parent advisory council is working with Blue Imp, the Alberta-based company hired to design and construct the playground, on applying for grant funding.
In addition to approaching local businesses in search of in-kind work or volunteers, the advisory council reached out to the MD of Bonnyville for financial assistance.
“I know that our proposal was taken forth to the MD council and they have interest in helping us with this playground. They have a few more questions for us, but we’re working with them and see if we can get more funding from them,” detailed Wakculchyk.
The students had a list of wants when it came to their future playground. A zipline, monkey bars, and a spinning structure with ropes made the cut. What the parent advisory council wanted to see, Wakculchyk said, was better accessibility.
“That’s a big part. We want everyone to be able to enjoy it so that too was taken into consideration for the main part of the playground."
The playground comes with a $345,000 price tag, so the school is hoping to get as much help financially as possible.
But contributions don't have to come in the form of dollars and cents Wakculchyk noted.
“There are ways we can try and get some costs down in terms of the site preparation, where we can hopefully do some of that ourselves and with the help of community members willing to volunteer,” she outlined, adding in-kind work and the donation of equipment is also a big help.
Their hope is to have their new playground installed next summer, even if that means downsizing their original dream.
“None of us want to be going down this road for five years. We wanted to put a goal that we thought was realistic so we decided on next summer. If that means we have to scale back something, then so be it,” stated Wakculchyk.
The community's next closest playground is in the Town of Bonnyville, making Iron River School's space the hub of their hamlet, Wakculchyk described.
“We really want to do this for our kids. They’re so excited. We really want to make this a reality for them."