By Shelly Wiebe
With the safety of the children in mind, the staff and students at Langton Public School said farewell to their playground equipment last spring. Although the swings remained standing, principal Tracy Rodrigues says their time is also limited, leaving the playground bare, with the exception of a few sand pits, basketball nets and soccer posts.
About 190 students take to the playground during recess time, for a total of 65 minutes throughout the day. Through the health unit, the school’s community partner, 14 students in grades 5 to 8 have been trained as “playground leaders”. These leaders help set up and run cooperative games at recess, but most parents and teachers feel without proper playground equipment their children are not fully benefited during their outdoor time.
“I just didn’t think it was acceptable that these children had to spend that much time outdoors with very little to do. Give them nothing and they’ll find something, and it might not be what we’d like them to be doing,” says grade 2/3 teacher, Mrs. Lori DeCloet.
“There are so many benefits to outdoor play from helping to stimulate brain activity to helping students function better inside the classroom, to providing opportunities for physical, social and emotional development. Play equipment provides the forum,” adds Mrs. DeCloet.
After meeting with her administrator, a sub-committee was soon formed between teachers and members of the parent council and fundraising efforts began to take shape.
With a goal of $50,000 to raise, Mrs. DeCloet stepped out of the traditional fundraising ideas and sought out Lucas Wilson, Canada’s own four time Guinness world record holding Illusionist and former student of Langton Public.
“I’ve seen him present a couple of times and was always impressed with his performance… I knew we needed a family friendly event so I instantly thought of Lucas. I reached out to him one night after a Council/Playground Committee Meeting and he immediately responded putting the wheels in motion.”
Attending Langton Public School for his grade 5-7 years, Lucas says he remembers playing on the playground equipment and that the swings were his favorite.
“It gave me the chance to feel like I was flying… it was almost like magic… playing on the playground helped to grow my imagination. I wasn’t just on a swing, I was flying an airplane, or sometimes avoiding all the lava on the ground. Many of my favourite childhood moments were had on a playground, I wouldn’t want any students to miss out on what I enjoyed.”
The fundraiser is at Valley Heights on April 27 at 7 p.m. Tickets can be purchased for $15 through Langton Public School and at Norlangs store on George Street. Whether you are 6 or 96 years old Lucas Wilson promises a show that the whole family can enjoy. “We perform magic that will not only amaze the young, but the young at heart.”
A target of 400 tickets to sell, Mrs. DeCloet says she is hopeful the community will support their school and be instrumental in helping to achieve the new playground goal. “Every ticket sold and every donation helps.”