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Christina Gordon Public School seeks funding for inclusive playground equipment

By on January 22, 2021 0 1151 Views

Christina Gordon Public School is currently seeking $50,000 in funding to create an inclusive playground to meet today’s standards, one that will allow all children the opportunity to play. 

“We want to encourage all of our students to play, no matter their age, gender, race or ability. To foster our student’s love of play, our school needs funding support to make our playground both more accessible and inclusive,” said Karla Power, music teacher at Christina Gordon Public School.

Power is the Chair of the Christina Gordon Inclusion Advisory Committee, a volunteer for the Autism Society of the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo (RMWB) and a mother to children with special needs. 

As the lead on the school’s inclusive playground project, she hopes sponsors can help bring the appropriate equipment to add to its existing schoolyard by 2022. The estimated total of the project is $120,000. The school has received $73,200 in grants and donations to date. 

Christina Gordon Public School staff gather on the grounds of their schoolyard in 2019. The school is currently seeking funds to make it accessible to all of its students. Photo supplied

In 2019, Christina Gordon Public School became the second Triple I (Intensive Individualized Intervention) school within Fort McMurray, with the first being Dr. Clark Public School. The Triple I program provides a full day of in-class learning with additional support for speech, occupation therapy, physical therapy and behavioural support.

Power founded the school’s committee in September 2019 to bring staff members and parents together monthly to discuss how to make their school the most inclusive place to be. Although she said the school’s sensory and gross motor rooms are well equipped, outdoor activities are limited.

“The playground, however, is lacking such equipment. We only have one swing, and many children need to swing to get vestibular input and calm their nervous system,” she said.

“The addition of specialized equipment to this playground provides more options in this Timberlea neighbourhood.” – Rick Thorne, Principal of Christina Gordon Public School

Christina Gordon’s Principal Rick Thorne is the brainchild of the inclusive playground project. He said the plan is to widen the options for families throughout the community by having the playground accessible to the public.

“It is our belief that our school, with a high number of students requiring adaptive equipment, is a reflection of the population as a whole in our municipality. As with all school playgrounds in the RMWB, they are fully accessible to families,” Thorne said. 

“Currently, families with children requiring adaptive playground equipment find themselves seeking out which playgrounds have something that best meets their needs. The addition of specialized equipment to this playground provides more options in this Timberlea neighbourhood, which has many families with small children requiring such equipment.”

The additional equipment to add to Christina Gordon’s schoolyard includes two inclusive seats/swings, two-generation swing seats, a swing set frame for the swings, a revolution inclusive spinner and a wheelchair swing and frame. 

“Besides the social benefits of building a more accessible and inclusive playground, there will also be physical benefits. Students will be excited to try the new equipment and more children will be involved in active play,” Power said.

For more information or to make a donation, contact Rick Thorne at richard.thorne@fmpsd.ab.ca or Karla Power at karla.power@fmpsd.ab.ca. Sponsorship packages are available. 

About the author

Editor-in-Chief at | dawn@balsom.ca

Dawn Booth is the Editor-in-Chief of YMM Parent Magazine and Your McMurray Magazine. She has actively worked in the Wood Buffalo region's media industry since residing in Fort McMurray in 2007.

Her passion is writing poetry and puts it at the forefront of the community through her volunteer work as the President of NorthWord Magazine. Most important, Booth puts her family of five first, which includes her husband Ryan and their three children, Landon, Dawson and Tessa.