Playground Legacy-100 Years in the Community
Created October  7, 2010 by Kim Whaley
**Playground Legacy-Celebrating a 100 Years of Community in Cedar Cottage**
A schoolyard playground is a celebration of childhood, of family, of community. It’s a release from the discipline of learning, and an expression of freedom. Unfortunately Lord Selkirk’s 30-year-old playground equipment is rotting and the Vancouver School Board is obligated to remove it.
British Columbia’s provincial government no longer provides school districts with funds for new playgrounds. It’s up to parents. Selkirk is an inner city school serving a largely immigrant and working-class population. And so you find us here, appealing for funds when there are so many other worthy projects to consider. Why support Selkirk?
Selkirk is a school with a remarkable record of meeting that challenge. It serves its 620 students with both English and French Immersion programs. It is a designated Early Intervention school that supports student literacy in kindergarten and grade 1. Selkirk offers barrier-free hot lunch and fruit and veggie programs to a student population that speaks 30 languages. At the Books and Breakfast program, staff serve food and connect with children through reading books or playing games.
Selkirk’s playground is also an important facility for Cedar Cottage Neighbourhood House, a volunteer-driven community service organization located little more than a block away. In addition to providing Selkirk’s out-of-school-care and preschool Strong Start programs, Cedar Cottage focuses on breaking down social and economic barriers to participation in community life.
The Selkirk grounds are also a true oasis in our urban community — an evolving mix of rental apartments, old homes and a raft of new townhouses. Demand is growing for the services of Selkirk and Cedar Cottage. Visit our 100-year-old school on a late summer afternoon or a crisp morning in spring, and you’ll see how highly the playground equipment is valued. This schoolyard is almost never empty.
A well-imagined schoolyard playground allows our children to build healthy bodies and close relationships, create a love of play, and improve attention in school. It can be a child’s fort, castle or secret club. It can be the place that connects not only children but their parents, without regard for income, ethnicity or social predisposition. Playgrounds help us all to better know and understand each other. They help build strong communities.
That’s why the Selkirk community has developed a plan that incorporates the whole school grounds, promotes different types of play and meets the needs of different ages and abilities. We need Aviva’s support for the main playground, but we will also create a welcome garden to celebrate the school’s centennial, play space for preschool children, a natural play space for creative and social play (with a meandering path and bridge, play house, garden and sandbox). All areas will incorporate universal design, ensuring use by children of all abilities and caregivers of all ages. Our vision is to transform the entire school grounds into a gathering space for all families. To do this, we cannot afford to lose our playground cornerstone.
While the Parent Advisory Council has raised some $19,000 of the $130,000 required for a new playground, we have a long way to go. Quite simply, the money to build the playground cannot simply be obtained through bake sales and raffles and appeals to parents (no matter how many times the principal promises to shave his head or wear a dress). Our students have expressed their worries about losing their playground through stories and pictures, and our “Me to We” student group has added advocating for our playground to its list of ways it can make a difference.
There is one more reason we believe Selkirk deserves your support. And it’s the opportunity to honour the memory of those the Selkirk community has lost. Last year, three neighbourhood children from two related families were killed in a cabin fire on a BC lake, where they were vacationing. They were kids who swung from our monkey bars, whose parents fished balls off the school roof, and who together shared their joy with all those who were with them. The childrens’ families have supported our fundraising effort with a substantial donation, and we want to ensure we do our part to see that the next generation’s delight is as abundant and contagious as the last … and the one before that, and the one before that.
Building a new playground at Lord Selkirk is about continuity with the past and hope for the future. It’s about building respect and opportunity. We hope that you see Selkirk’s plan as we do, as a very special project among many worthy contenders.