Plans for a community-built playground in Balfour are starting to come together.
After a meeting with area children in January, a zip line, swing set, monkey bars and two pieces of outdoor exercise equipment all made it into the final design for the new play space, which will replace outdated facilities at the old school house on Upper Balfour Road.
“It was nice to see kids want some classic stuff, like swings and monkey bars,” says Erin Fitchett, a director on the Balfour Recreation Commission. More than 100 people turned out to vote on the equipment, with the zip line being the most popular option.
With the plan back from the designer, Balfour now needs to raise at least $20,000 for the project, which will be matched by a grant from Canadian nonprofit Let Kids Be Kids. Balfour’s playground is one of 40 the group is helping build across the country this year.
“We’re feeling really positive about it,” Fitchett says of the fundraising efforts so far. “We’ve already secured $15,000 of our goal, and we’re going to be putting up thermometers at the ferry landing and at the playground site so people can see where we’re at.”
She’s also looking for about 100 more volunteers to help build the playground during a community construction day May 28, and to help prep the site in advance. The Recreation Commission is also planning to add a new shelter and picnic tables to the schoolyard, and is looking for people to build those as well.
“We’re feeling like a lot of people will come out later,” adds Fitchett. “Once the snow melts, we’re hoping people will come out of the woodwork a little bit.”
Not all volunteering jobs will involve hammers and nails. Fitchett says volunteers can also arrange children’s activities on the build day, or do touch-up landscaping in the schoolyard.
And those with a bit of community knowledge can pitch in by brainstorming a name for the new playground.
“We’re looking to dedicate the park to a fallen hero in our community,” explains Fitchett. “Someone that’s made a difference in our community, whether it be a soldier or a first responder. Or just someone who’s made our community a better place to call home.”
To suggest a name or learn more about the community’s fundraising campaign, email firstname.lastname@example.org To volunteer for the community build day, register online at ltbk.ca.