Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition Partners
This was started in 1997. The result is a playground safety audit. All of the playgrounds where revamped or closed if unsafe. Many of the playgrounds in schools were also torn down and new ones built. Currently Crime Stoppers is fundraising to rebuild local playgrounds.
New playground equipment to be safer
By Heather Ogilvie
It’s been a long time coming but by the end of the month, children will have a new—and much safer—structure to play on at the Lions Park in Emo.
Bridget Beck, one of the playground committee members, and Grace Silander, chair of the Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition, stopped by the park last Thursday evening to check out the current structure and pointed out many of its flaws.
“There’s not enough dirt for a soft landing,” noted Silander, gesturing to the bottom of the straight slide.
She said perhaps there once was more dirt but it’s been worn down and is now unsafe. The new piece of equipment will use a special playground sand.
“There are a lot more safety features on the new one,” Beck echoed.
For instance, any piece several feet off the ground will have a proper cage around it so youngsters already will be on their way down the slide before leaving the cage.
“They won’t be able to fall through,” said Beck, adding these features make the structure suitable for small children where the current one does not.
She noted upgrades had been done, which improved the old playground equipment, but it was decided it was time for something new.
Beck and several other mothers, including Marnie Redford, Dawn Morriseau, and Crystal Hyatt, came together in 2000 after discovering the equipment was not as safe as it could be and wasn’t accessible for younger children.
“It’s the little ones you worry about,” Beck stressed. “They’re too young to realize what is dangerous.”
The group raised more than $15,000 by holding raffles, selling chocolate bars, and through donations. In addition, the Ontario Trillium Foundation provided $29,000 over one year while the Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition chipped in $1,000.
“That’s the maximum for anybody,” Silander said of the RRVSC’s contribution. “And it’s exciting to see younger people coming forward and putting in a proposal.”
She also noted unsafe playgrounds are the third-highest risk among youngsters.
“So it’s a good investment,” Silander remarked. “We’re excited to see the new and improved playground.”
Beck said many parents and children in the community also are excited about the new structure. “I’ve been showing the picture to people and everyone seems to like it,” she remarked.
The brightly-coloured, roughly 1,800 sq. ft. piece of equipment features wide steps, several climbing areas, a “spring across” balance beam, and a “double swirl poly-slide.”
“It’s much bigger than what we have now,” Beck noted. The current structure will be dismantled sometime next week, with even the timbers surrounding the area being moved to make room for the 49’x49’ enclosure.
A representative from the company where the equipment was purchased is scheduled to begin installation of it on May 29-30.
“And we’re looking for volunteers to help put it in,” Beck said, adding the equipment only should take only two days. “We need about eight people.
“This is really great for all children in the community,” she enthused. “It’s much safer and parents won’t have to worry so much.”
If anyone is able to help with the installation, contact Beck at the Emo municipal office.
Playground equipment officially opened
Despite the early snowfall last week, Ontario NDP leader and local MPP Howard Hampton made a brief stop in Emo on Friday afternoon to help residents officially open the new playground equipment at the Lions Park.
The roughly 1,800 sq. ft. play structure, which was installed in May, was funded by a $29,000 Ontario Trillium Foundation grant, $15,000 raised by the playground committee, and a donation of $1,000 from the Rainy River Valley Safety Coalition.
“I’m pleased that the Ontario Trillium Foundation has provided the necessary funding to provide safe playground equipment for the enjoyment of all children in the community of Emo,” Hampton said.
“To everyone who has worked so hard to make this new playground a reality, congratulations and thank you for your dedication.”
Kathy Leek, representing the Ontario Trillium Foundation, noted about 100 children under the age of 12 and 50 families use the park on a regular basis.
“The old equipment was old and not up to CSA standards . . . [so] it was important to make the upgrade to this much-used municipal park,” she stressed.
It also was noted the new structure has increased the number of children using this equipment, and has provided a safe environment for all the children.
“The Ontario Trillium Foundation celebrates the commitment and energy of the Township of Emo in encouraging community partnership and encouraging volunteerism,” Leek added.
“And we thank you for helping us fulfill our goal in working with others to make strategic investments to build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario.”
All groups or individuals who made a contribution to the new equipment were thanked for their support.
The playground fundraising committee, consisting of Bridget Beck, Marnie Redford, and Dawn Morriseau, also put a lot of time and effort into the project, and many volunteers helped to install the equipment.