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The new playground at Saint Rose School in Saint John. Image: Submitted/David Macgowan

Fully accessible playground opens at Saint John school

By Brad Perry May 27, 2024 | 6:28 AM

Every student at a west Saint John school will now be able to access the playground

After a year of planning and construction, a new fully accessible playground is now open.

Shari Carey, the school’s vice-principal, said seeing the students so excited made the fundraising worth it.

“When we headed outside, the kids were screaming and running, they were cooperating with each other to get up on the playground. So many kids were saying, ‘This is the best day ever,'” Carey said in an interview.

The new playground includes wheelchair access, sensory panels, a brail panel, as well as sign language and communication panels.

David Macgowan with the school’s parent advisory committee said the new playground will benefit the entire school community.

Macgowan said about eight per cent of the school’s population is neurologically diverse, meaning they did not have equipment that gave them a positive experience with play.

“If they’re having these bad social interactions at a young age, it can actually be very detrimental and almost fearful to interact and play with the peers,” he said.

“There is a very big trickle-down effect and we want to make sure that, especially at a young age, that children are engaging properly socially.”

Macgowan said the equipment was selected to ensure students would be able to play side-by-side and would not be separated based on different skill levels.

Students at the school had a say in what the new playground would look like, with some of them even drawing designs.

Carey said they wanted part of the old playground — the climbing apparatuses with the monkey bars and the gliders — to stay.

“We were able to keep that piece, and then what we did is we worked with PlayPower to create a playground based on some of their design,” she said.

More than $200,000 was raised for the first two phases of work, which included funding from the city, the province, the Greater Saint John Community Foundation, local businesses and the community.

Now, they are looking to fundraise another $300,000 to complete the third phase of work, hopefully over the next year.

A fund has been set up through the Greater Saint John Community Foundation.