After about a 15-year process, Ahousaht’s Maaqtusiis Elementary School (MES) finally has its new playground.
MES school principal Kate Drexler said the new playground plus the flooring and installation was around $80,000, which came out of elementary school savings.
She said with the help of vice principal and special education co-ordinator Ali Herron, MES was able to bring in playground specialist Trevor Zahara from Alberta to do the build.
“He come over with an assistant and asked if we had any students interested in helping with the build. We had four students who stepped up and worked over their spring break for two weeks to get the project done,” she said.
The tiles of the new floor are made out of recycled tires.
“In terms of early development, the tiles provide added cushion to reduce the risk of injuries, especially from falls from a height. The surface is also slip-resistant which is key here on the west coast. The tiles also allow more freedom to play as it is a single surface rather than them being careful around constant changes in play surface,” said Herron.
MES has 147 students from Kindergarten to Grade 7 and Maaqtusiis Secondary has 80 students. The new playground is one of several projects the rural First nations community, located a half hour boat ride North of Tofino, has in the works.
“We’re hoping to build a middle school ‘hang out’ for Grade 5, 6, 7, with a climbing wall and undercover green space where the kids can ride their scooters. There’s also talk about a zipline,” said principal Drexler.
She said she is over-the-moon with how her teachers and kids are handling the pandemic.
“Our kids and teachers are being super resilient. With everything happening, they are just taking it in stride and doing really well. There’s no place I’d rather be during this time than Ahousaht. The community makes sure everyone is taken care of,” she said.