Outdoor play in schools is an important part of student development. It is said to encourage positive health and brain development, as well as reducing behavioural issues. However, for children who struggle with mobility, recess and lunch breaks don’t offer the same kind of freedom to play.
It’s the reason Andy Pfeiffer, Principal of Columbia Park Elementary, is so thrilled with the installation of the schools new playground.
“It’s meant to make our playground more inclusive,” says Pfeiffer. “We have two students for certain, and expect to have others in the future, who struggle with mobility issues. Now it will be a lot easier for them to get on a playground structure.”
The playground, which will be completed in the next couple of days, has ramps that allow students to access the structure. A wheelchair accessible carousal, called an inclusion spinner, may need to wait for a spring installation, but is included.
“It is open to everyone in the community,” Pfeiffer says. “This is a nice community space for children to play.”
Pfeiffer says the final step is planned for spring.
“We plan to make a paved pathway that weaves its way throughout the outdoor structures, to the outdoor learning space and back towards the school. Then, for example, students in a wheelchair could get on playground, work way through structures and get to the outdoor classroom with the rest of their classmates.”
Columbia Park Elementary is the first school in Revelstoke to have a more accessible park, and also the first to have an outdoor classroom.
“In Revelstoke, with rainy days and slushy winters, it gives teachers a chance to go outside and work with their kids,” says Pfeiffer of the outdoor learning centre. “Learning outside can be hugely beneficial for students. We have a teacher here, Matt Kieller, who last year started an outdoor education program, where he works with certain groups of students from grades 4-7. It’s been a great success.”
Begbie View Elementary is in the process of creating an outdoor learning space. It is refreshing to see how Revelstoke Schools are embracing innovative ways to engage their students.