After nine years of advocacy and fundraising, students and staff cheered as they celebrate the official opening of Jarvis Traditional Elementary’s new accessible playground Friday morning (Jan. 13).
The school held a ceremony to mark the occasion, MC’d by Grade 7 students Anisha and Aikan and attended by Minister of Education and Child Care Rachna Singh, Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon, school board Chair Val Windsor, Trustee Ammen Dhillon (a Jarvis alumna herself) and senior staff from the Delta School District.
In his remarks, Kahlon called it an important and special day, noting, “we are here today because of a lot of hard work.”
“Nine years parents have been raising money (…) so you can have a playground,” he said, addressing the students gathered in Jarvis’s gym.
“You have two very important jobs — and you can tell this to your parents when you get home. One is to learn and grow, what you’re doing in school. The second is to play, because when you’re playing, it actually helps you learn.”
Kahlon said playgrounds play a key role in helping to build strong communities.
“We know it’s important that we need to have more playgrounds and more places for you to do that important learning, and this playground that you’ve got brand new here is part of that.”
The new playground was finally financed through a $165,000 grant from the provincial government, announced in September of 2021 as part of the Playground Equipment Program (PEP).
Singh, who took over the education portfolio as part of Premier David Eby’s cabinet shuffle in early December, praised the hard work of parents and school board trustees in making the new playground a reality before highlighting Kahlon’s role in making it playground funding a priority for the province.
“He heard from the parents and he, as [a member of the] government, realized we can take this one burden off the parents shoulders, off the trustees, the board of education’s shoulders. And since 2018, we have invested more than $30 million in a number of playgrounds all across the province.”
As a North Delta resident whose children grew up and attended school in Delta, Singh said she knows what these school playgrounds mean to the community.
“I remember like when I used to go at the end of school to bring them [home], and my kids would always say, ‘no, just a few more minutes, I want to be on the playground.’ So I know how important they are,” Singh said.
“So I’m really, really excited to be here with you all today. I’m sure you are going to enjoy the new playground and that it will really help you in your learning as well.”
School board chair Val Windsor, who taught in the Delta School District for more than 30 years, said she has always viewed playgrounds as an extension of the classroom.
“It’s where social learning takes place, where students learn to be citizens through play and sharing and collaboration, and lots of good leadership skills are developed out in the playground as well,” Windsor said. “Fred Rogers once said that ‘play gives children a chance to practice what they are learning.’ The importance of giving our students a safe place to do just that cannot be overstated.”
Windsor said Friday’s event was a celebration of both an important milestone in Jarvis Traditional Elementary’s history and the collective progress in making the Delta School District “an innovative, inclusive community where all learners belong and everyone is able to soar.”
“My wish is that this playground brings many moments of joy and adventure for all of you, and all the students of Jarvis Traditional Elementary for years to come.”
Principal Ken Levenstein said the new playground is greatly appreciated by students and families in the school community.
“Playgrounds are places where the rituals of life and growing up are played out each and every day. Playgrounds help children learn to become citizens, learn to play in a fair and safe manner, learn to share and learn to collaborate,” Levenstein said.
“On behalf of the entire Jarvis Traditional community, I would like to express our thanks for the wonderful new accessible playground.”
Jarvis is the third North Delta elementary school in the last five years to receive provincial funding for a new playground, following McCloskey in 2019 and Chalmers in 2018.
In April, the province announced Richardson Elementary would be receiving a $165,000 PEP grant towards building a new playground at the school.
While that playground had yet to be designed, a press release at the time said the plan was for the playground to be fully accessible and include “adventure-style” equipment that can accommodate all ages.