Donors and students participate in a thank-you and ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the École Willows elementary playground. (Christine van Reeuwyk/Oak Bay News)

Willows school boasts newest Oak Bay playground

Grand opening Monday at École Willows elementary

A countdown ribbon cutting and squeals of happy children highlighted the new playground grand opening Monday (June 18) at École Willows elementary.

Oak Bay Fire Fighter’s Charitable Foundation, Abstract Developments, CanPro Construction, Academy of Learning, and a number of private donors were thanked profusely for helping fund the six-year project.

“These special guests all contributed substantially to the Willows PAC playground fund and without them this incredible playground would have taken at least another year to be installed,” said Christina Smith, Willows PAC playground committee.

The new playground was installed the week prior. It was identified as a priority in 2012 and fundraising efforts since raised the $55,000 necessary for the equipment and installation.

“Many, many many volunteer hustling hours were spent on this. Seeing and hearing how happy you children have been playing here over the last week has made it all worth it,” said Bronwen Sharpe, Willows PAC playground committee. “Here’s to generations of kids making this playground a backdrop to some of their favourite childhood memories.”

Principal Wendy Holob thanked the PAC for a “never give up attitude.”

“While funding is a key to building something like this, another key to the success of this playground is our collective awareness of just how important play is in the lives of our children,” Holob said.

“Swinging, jumping skipping crawling and climbing stimulate different regions of the brain .. it’s important for you to do all those things every day, it allows you to grow, explore the world, strengthen your bodies, practice taking turns, trying something new and building confidence,” she told the Grade 4 and 5 students on hand for the event. Those grades previously had only tire towers and a field to play in.

The new playground, open to students and the community, features a net-based, steel-framed climbing structure with creative climbing action for multiple users and a challenging upper body circuit.

“We are hoping this piece of equipment here … will just increase the number of friends you make and the number of hours you play – and that would be a blessing for you and for all of us,” Holob said.

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Donors and students participate in a thank-you and ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the École Willows elementary playground. (Christine van Reeuwyk/Oak Bay News)

Donors and students participate in a thank-you and ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the École Willows elementary playground. (Christine van Reeuwyk/Oak Bay News)

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