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BCAA Play Here wants to give Penticton families more places to connect

For years, the grounds at Cache Creek Elementary School appeared woefully empty. The school in BC’s interior boasted wide terrain and mountain views, but the play space for its students was sparse: a couple of tire swings hung in a pit of sand, with a faraway view of some swings and a worn-down play structure.

The school wanted that to change. It saw a blank slate in the massive space and envisioned an area that would help the school integrate green initiatives, sustainability and local cultural knowledge.

In 2018, that dream became a reality. The school was named one of three winners of the BCAA Play Here project, a community program that delivers rejuvenated play spaces to British Columbia communities in need.

In October, workers and volunteers descended on the grounds to install a customized new playground, including new, interconnected sliding, climbing and balancing structures with varying angles and heights. Covered decks were also constructed to offer kids more protection from the sun. All of these features are geared towards creating challenging, imaginative and accessible play spaces for children.

The modernized play space was a needed boost for the community. Flooding as recent as 2018 destroyed homes and parts of the town and damaged the school grounds. The 2017 wildfires forced the town to evacuate, with the flames burning and scarring the surrounding hillsides and grasslands. Cache Creek Elementary School served twice as a base of operations during these emergencies.

“The spaces that we would create for families and children would give a sense of hope and provide something positive for Cache Creek and area residents,” the school wrote in its application.

Since launching the Play Here initiative in 2016, BCAA has awarded nine play spaces to deserving communities. These spaces don’t just have to be playgrounds, though. Any communal space, like a community garden or outdoor classroom, tennis court, music room or after-school study area, for instance, can apply.

The revitalizations, which are worth $100,000, fundamentally change the communities. Kids, for one, have better opportunities to play and develop their skills. The play spaces also build community and create stronger ties between local residents, inspiring them to drive change.

Now, it’s a time to find the next batch of play spaces that need revitalization. BCAA is asking B.C. residents to nominate a play space for a chance to win one of three $100,000 upgrades.

Remember, any play space that needs rejuvenation can be nominated and chosen as a winner. It can be an outdoor space, including a sports facility like a basketball court; or an indoor space, like a library play area or a youth program facility.

If it’s a place where people in the community can go to play, gather and learn, tell BCAA how it can be improved and, by extension, bring your community together.

Play spaces are hubs for the community. They’re vital to children’s learning and development and they bring families together. Help BCAA ensure that Penticton is well served by these important spaces by nominating one in your community.

You can submit an application on BCAA Play Here’s website from April 8-28, 2019.

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