Lamont, Alberta — Being strong enough to cross the monkey bars or swinging so high that it feels like you’re flying—these are two fundamental parts of being a kid enjoying recess. But at Lamont Elementary School, the playground is literally falling apart. It’s an old school (pun intended), wooden structure, the same kind that Delane Zacharko played on as a kid.
Now with kids of her own at Lamont, Zacharko has joined the Friends of Lamont Elementary (FLE) committee; a non-profit organization that raises funds for various school related projects, but it’s not easy. The schools themselves are limited to lower level fund development like bake sales, book fairs and spell-a-thons, while higher paying fundraising like raffles, bingos, and casino nights require government licensing.
In the past, money raised from these events has been put towards technology improvements and classroom renovations, with little left over for anything else. But now, thanks to Tara Cossey’s grant nomination the Friends of Lamont Elementary got an unexpected financial boost towards a much-needed playground makeover. The funds will come in handy as commercial playground equipment is costly and because it is heavily used on a daily basis, it is prone to wearing out quickly. As such, durable building materials come with a hefty price tag.
Cossey, a local grower and mother to a Lamont student, nominated the Friends of Lamont Elementary to receive a $2,500 grant from the Bayer Fund’s Canada’s Farmers Grow Communities program (CFGC). She loves how close-knit her community is, noting that everyone knows everyone, and people are quick to lend a helping hand. When she saw the CFGC program application, she knew it was the perfect opportunity to help give back to her community.
There are other smaller playgrounds in Lamont, but both Zacharko and Cossey agree that the school’s structure is the hot spot for families. It’s also the only elementary school in the community making it a gathering place for students and their families.
The new playground structure will look vastly different than the current one. Wooden fixtures are no longer deemed safe or long-lasting, and kids won’t be seeing their beloved tire swings either. But that doesn’t faze them, says Cossey. They’re just excited to have a new jungle gym to climb on. The new structure will also be more accessible.
Zacharko was honoured to be nominated for the grant and wants to thank not only Cossey for the nomination but the Bayer Fund for helping to support the school’s project. “It’s a big project, with a huge budget and every dollar counts. We are so grateful to have received the grant and I know the kids will be too!” she says.
The Friends of Lamont Elementary will continue to fundraise for this project, which is the largest one they’ve taken on thus far and are hoping to have it built over the 2021 summer break.