Waskesiu Foundation raising funds for playground renewal

Matt
Matt Gardner
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A project to renew one beachside playground is bringing together the community of Waskesiu.

A playground features sculptures of a mother bear and her cubs similar to those planned for the Waskesiu playground renewal project 'Bears on the Beach.' The Waskesiu Foundation is currently raising money for the project, which will provide the playground with new nature-themed equipment.

In partnership with Parks Canada, the Waskesiu Foundation is currently spearheading efforts to raise funds for “Bears on the Beach,” a renewal project that will replace the existing playground equipment with new nature-themed variants, centred on a giant “tree” and life-sized sculpture of a mother bear and her cubs.

Both tree and bears are made out of glass fibre-reinforced concrete, with metal raillings and posts made to look like tree branches. Other new equipment includes tree climbers themed to resemble conifers and vines, three stainless steel slides, rope activities, overhead loop climbers, chin-up bars and stepping stones.

“It’s all done in a type of material that’s very safe and long-lasting and it should be quite a nice improvement to the Waskesiu main beach,” Waskesiu Foundation board chair Jim Kerby said.

Speaking on behalf of the registered charity, Kerby said the project arose out of a desire for a project that would appeal to a younger demographic.

“We’ve done about 25 successful projects so far in the town site,” Kerby said. “A lot of the other projects that we’ve done would be more for adult use -- halls and outdoor benches and that sort of thing.

“This was a real opportunity to do something for young people, children in our community -- and in fairness, it also assists mothers and grandmothers … grandparents with children.

“The Waskesiu main beach is a great place to take kids for a day, for part of the day, … This is just something that was needed in our community, and we think it’s really

going to benefit young people and their parents and grandparents.”

To cover the costs of the project, the Foundation has set a goal of raising $295,000 by August to allow the beginning of site work in September.

Thus far, it has managed to raise two-thirds of that goal -- the vast majority of which will go towards acquiring the playground equipment itself.

“There will be some cost of installation, but a lot of the costs relating to the in-kind installation and that, we’ve received assistance from Parks Canada agency … They’ll be working alongside us to help us reduce some of those costs by using some of their available equipment,” Kerby said.

This is just something that was needed in our community, and we think it’s really going to benefit young people and their parents and grandparents. Jim Kerby

“So basically the largest part of what’s needed here is going towards actual acquisition of playground equipment.”

Site work in the fall would involve leveling and preparing the ground, installing concrete pads underneath points where the various structures will be placed. Actual construction would subsequently take place in the spring of 2015.

Volunteers are playing a major role throughout the process, helping to develop the design, raise money, organize equipment installation and assemble the playground itself.

“Obviously we will be working under the supervision of the vendor, and the volunteers for the foundation will be participating in the actual construction and installation of the playground,” Kerby said.

“We obviously also have a number of committees working to raise funds as part of the donations needed for this. So there’s no doubt that volunteers in all sorts of formats are playing a big role for us.”

While the Foundation has appealed to donors for direct cash contributions, members of the community have also organized their own fundraising activities.

Among the Wakesiu businesses helping to chip in are the Hawood Inn -- which is selling special stuffed bears -- and the local cinema, which is hosting a special screening of the Disney documentary Bears.

Kerby noted the example of one child who had collected and sold golf bolls, donating the proceeds to the playground renewal project.

“It’s a pretty wide range of activities so far, and we’re expecting to do a picnic day in the park as well and raise some funds through that,” he said.

Donations for the playground renewal project can be made through cheque (mailed to the Waskesiu Foundation, Box 242, Saskatoon, SK, S7K 3K4) or online at www.waskesiu.org, specifying “playground” when donating.

Charitable receipts will be issued for all donations exceeding $25, while donors over $100 will be recognized on a special display.

Organizations: Waskesiu Foundation, Parks Canada, Hawood Inn

Geographic location: Waskesiu, Saskatoon

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