St. Michael plans for inclusive playground equipment

A staff member of St. Michael School wants to make their playground fully accessible, after seeing the disappointment of a boy who is confined to a wheelchair in not being able to go out and play with his classmates at recess time.

Deanna Schwindt was inspired by a Grade 1 student to pursue getting accessible playground equipment installed at St. Michael, and gave a presentation to the board of trustees of Holy Family Roman Catholic Separate School Division at their monthly board meeting on Wednesday.

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“He tugs at my heart because he’s sweet, laughing all the time, and it makes me sad to see him on the sidelines at recess because he can’t access the playground,” she said, adding that he has activities he can do on the side, but not on any of the current playground equipment.

Schwindt noted this equipment would not only be for his use, but for a number of students aged two up to 12 years who would benefit from accessible play equipment.

The proposed equipment would include a wheelchair ramp into the play structure, bars, accessible rings and accessible swings, climbing walls, and a rubberized surface to enable the access all around the equipment, not just one part of it.

There are a number of options they will be looking at as possible funding sources, said Schwindt, including grant programs like JumpStart and Co-op Community Spaces, the Weyburn Credit Union and other local businesses, Telemiracle, the School Community Council for St. Michael and the Holy Family school division.

Board chair Bruno Tuchscherer asked if this project would be a one-time thing, or if it can be added to in the future.

“I asked if it can done in phases,” Schwindt said. “It would be for everybody, that’s what we want, for all the kids. We want something that will incorporate everybody.”

The size of the area for the play structure as it’s currently proposed is 56 by 61 feet, and would have a total price tag of $85,360.

Broken down, this price includes a setup cost of $16,500, rubber paving of $56,442, $5,000 for the site prep work, a contingency fund, and $5,000 for the Rick Hansen certification, which would certify that this play area is fully accessible.

“This is a significant amount of work that you’re putting into this,” said education director Gwen Keith. The board of trustees will consider the request for funds, and the School Community Council will be looking for donations and grant funding from various sources to make this playground a reality.