Poplar Ridge School is receiving new playground equipment thanks to some funding from Red Deer County.
Two brand new gaga ball pits, one for older kids and one for younger, as well as the resurfacing of the outdoor basketball court are being installed on the school grounds.
Principal Carolynne Muncer said obtaining the funding took about four months of leg work, and a partnership with the school, the parents council and support from people from the county to put the application together, before it was sent before county council in and voted to approval in May.
“Our students have been to Camp Evergreen… and they have played gaga ball and so they’ve been talking about it for I think a few years now,” explained Muncer.
“We have an incredibly involved, committed and dedicated parent council who are always looking for ways to support anything that we need or want.”
Gaga ball is a last man standing style game played in an octagon with short hockey rink-like boards.
The rink can be packed with players who try to hit the ball with their hands with the aim of hitting another player below the waist to get them “out.”
“I know that the kids will definitely use those pits every recess, winter, fall, spring and summer, because you can play it any time of the year,” Muncer said, adding gaga ball is a “great game in phys-ed.”
She explained the student show strategy, sportsmanship, and form alliances.
“This is just a nice way for them to play together, mixed grades, mixed ages or just their grade and it’s a great workout.”
With Poplar Ridge being a rural school it also serves as a hub in the community as there is nothing like a recreation centre nearby.
Muncer says the school playground is utilized all the time by the community and the county is always looking for ways to support the areas within it.
The project received $28,684 worth of funding from the county with the school and parent council having to make contributions as well. The school found $2,000 in their budget to contribute while the parent council is contributing about $1,000 worth of labour.
Lumber for the gaga ball pits was received May 28 with the first pit already up and running.
The goal is to have the second pit completed by the end of the month dependent on the volunteer’s availability within work and life commitments.
It is unclear is the basketball court will be resurfaced by the end of the month as well, but it will be done by the end of summer, says Muncer.
In the future, she says, she could see there being little tournaments as a school, in addition to family tournaments outside of school hours.
“I’ve been at this for almost 30 years, I’ve worked in lots of schools in three provinces and I will say that I am inspired and feel very grateful and blessed to be working in a school that has the kind of commitment and involvement that we do from our parents,” said Muncer.
“On top of that, to have this wonderful partnership and relationship with the county that we sit on and I feel like, honestly, we are just beyond grateful.”
With the students being out of the classrooms due to the COVID-19 pandemic the school hasn’t had an opportunity to celebrate the new equipment and support from the county.
Muncer says a celebration and ribbon cutting ceremony will be held with the school, parents, community and county once it is appropriate to do so in the fall.