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Alberta directs $20M over 4 years for new school playgrounds

Alberta directs $20M over 4 years for new school playgrounds
WATCH ABOVE: Many established schools have play structures that have come to end of their life span, and parents are on their own raising money to replace them. As Jill Croteau reports, provincial government relief is on the way, but not in the way some families had hoped.

Alberta is directing $20 million over the next four years for playgrounds for new schools with young children.

Premier Rachel Notley made the announcement in Calgary Friday, saying playgrounds are part of a well-rounded education.

New schools for students in kindergarten to Grade 6 will be eligible for grants up to $250,000.

The grants will be retroactive to 2014, so that more than 50 previously announced schools will be eligible.

If a community wants to build a playground that costs more than $250,000, they have the option of fundraising the remaining money needed for the project.

Notley says the playgrounds go beyond just the children.

She says parents meet and form relationships as they watch their kids at play, and that playgrounds become focal points for strong communities.

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“I can speak personally (about this),” Notley said.

She said the people she met at playgrounds when her children were young were with her when they watched the kids graduate from high school.

“(They) are part of our community and part of our life even today,” she said.

“It’s that kind of community we need to support and build across this province.”

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“Playgrounds are an essential part of all students’ school experiences,” said Justin Murray, a parent and member of the Vista Heights School Council and Parent Enhancement Society. “Our children deserve safe, outdoor play areas that encourage engagement while they learn and develop their physical and social skills during free time and recess.

“I’m happy the province is committing more resources to playgrounds, and I would really like to see an even greater commitment to playgrounds in the future.”

— With files from Global News