Roughly 250 elementary school kids attend Mt. Pleasant Public School and for kids grade four and under, their playground equipment has been shut down and roped off for the past couple years leaving the kids with limited activities for their breaks.
The school built its current playground equipment roughly 25 years ago and it has been loved and used by both the school and the community members ever since.
In December 2021, the Mt. Pleasant School Parent Council began fundraising in hopes to have the current structure replaced and back up and running for all to enjoy.
“A year or so before that, we knew that our current playground probably wouldn’t pass inspection,” said Sherri Marshall, President of the Parent Council. “Then the slide actually ended up breaking so we had to kind of rope that area off, and the kids were just using a section of it – specifically the monkey bars on the one side.”
The original fundraising goal was set around $65,000 – $70,000, however since the school’s new principal arrived this year, there has been a request to install a rubberized surface underneath the structure – raising the price by roughly $35,000 and bumping the fundraising goal to $100,000.
Currently, an estimated $57,000 has been raised for the playground so far, including a $5,000 donation from the Mount Pleasant Optimist Club and a $10,000 donation from Brant County Fire Station 5.
Devlin’s Country Bistro runs a breadbasket fundraiser every month where staff pick a charity to donate to. A Devlin’s staff member has picked the playground for this month’s fundraiser, and it will be running for two months rather than just one.
Other local businesses are planning to also donate once the fundraiser gets closer to its goal and community members donate when they can.
Even kids in the school have tried their share of fundraising by hosting fundraiser birthday parties rather than asking for gifts.
The parent council aims for three larger fundraisers a year and try to do other small things every month or every other month when they can. At Christmas they put on a stocking raffle, and they are currently about to put on a gift card calendar lottery as well.
Marshall mentioned that it can be frustrating to always be asking for more.
“We always feel bad because we feel like we’re always asking for something, you know? It’s like, ‘hey we’re looking for donations for this fundraiser,’ and we’re asking for things like gift cards or gifts to be donated and you get tired of asking and you feel bad, but at the same time I think people understand that it’s a big fundraising goal.”
Schools are not required to have a playground, and most receive the money for structures through grants or through fundraising to have them built in the first place. Despite the parent council’s effort, the Grand Erie School Board is unable to help with the funds for the new playground as it is not a need to have on school grounds.
The parent council and the previous principal have also spoken to the County, but because there is a community park close by in the area, prioritizing the school’s playground can’t be justified.
County of Brant council members have been helping to look for different solutions, however the school’s parent council have yet to receive any concrete answers.
Parent council has also recently applied for three grants but were denied one and are hoping to hear back about the other two soon in order to get the playground moving for the kids.
“They loved that playground and we saw just how often it was used every day with the kids,” said Marshall. “Our playground is only on our primary side, but on the bigger side they’ve got basketball and soccer nets plus some other things. The little ones really only have the playground – there’s a little sand area and stuff for them too, but the playground was used so much by the four and under, as well as after hours by the community too and we would love to get it back up and running for them.”