Christmas came early for the students of Bench Elementary, with a brand new playground on site for kids to be kids.

The school was granted targeted funding of just under $200,000 from the Ministry of Education for playground renewals in 2022, after an application from School District 58.

“We got lucky, this was our year,” said Principal Kevin McGifford.

The school’s parent advisory committee also had a helping hand in securing the funds for the upgrade, raising over $11,000 for the cause.

Student input was key in designing the new build, with staff holding plenty of meetings with students over a three-month period, showing samples of what the playground could look like.

“We considered long-term what the needs of our students were going to look like, and went from there,” added McGifford.

The playground was designed for an age group of around grade 3-7. Many of the students were looking for ways to climb and swing, evident in the monkey bars and the stand-up swing.

One factor in planning for the long term was the need for accessibility, with the design featuring a number of ramps.

“These allow students with mobility challenges to come up and enjoy the playground…the merry-go-round is actually designed for kids to go in it with their wheelchair.”

With the design process complete, the next step to remove the old playground equipment and install the new build began in early fall of this year, culminating in a finished project by the end of November.

The playground will be named at a later date, with input from the students.

Bench Elementary celebrated the grand opening of its new playground on Dec. 1. Photo/Jake Courtepatte

Bench Elementary celebrated the grand opening of its new playground on Dec. 1. Photo/Jake Courtepatte