Turning Frowns Upside Down

A School Without a Playground? We’ll Fix That.

Turning Frowns Upside Down

Sir Wilfrid Laurier Elementary School

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

When this elementary school and annex were notified that their old playstructures had to be removed due to safety concerns, the kids were devastated. The possibility of being without their playgrounds for up to three years was too much. Fortunately, their parents stepped up. And so did Circle K International (CKI), the premier collegiate and university community service organization in the world sponsored by Kiwanis® International.

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Getting the Kids Involved

With Circle K’s help, the school was able to enlist the help of Jeff Musson, a Landscape Structures playground consultant with Habitat Systems.

“Jeff and his team did an incredible job,” according to Janet Souther, the school’s principal. “They created a slide show for us, including a movie clip of the components.”

"I would ask the kids, ‘Do you want choice A or choice B?'" Janet, SoutherPrincipal

This was presented to all of the kids, from kindergarten through grade 7. “I was concerned there would be a big divide between the younger and older kids, but there turned out to be great consensus.”

Everyone Plays Together

The kids wanted their new playgrounds to be inclusive. A number of their classmates have special needs, including children on the autism spectrum who are integrated into regular classes. “They are part of our school community, so naturally all the children wanted an opportunity to play together,” explains Janet.

The Oodle® Swing is great for kids of all abilities. “For kids with autism, the rocking experience is interactive and creates group play,” according to Jeff. “On the Oodle Swing, they can share a connection and build friendships.”

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Flexible Design Consideration

A couple children were still upset about losing the older equipment they loved. “One of the things I so appreciated about Jeff was that we were able to save our slide and add to it,” explains Janet. “It was nice to be able to say to the kids, ‘Oh, but we’re saving this piece.’”

Every Day Is a Play Day

"It has a circuit, some independent items, is highly active with lots of moving parts and modern looking with a new color scheme that adds pop."Jeff MussonHabitat Systems

Jeff sees Sir Wilfrid as an unmitigated success. “Janet was hopeful it would offer kids a fun place to play, but I don’t think she anticipated just how fun it would turn out,” says Jeff. “It’s now a place of social gathering on more than just a school day.”

As Janet sums it up, “This was a once-in-a-career type of experience, I know it. And it’s been absolutely a dream.” 

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