Insight Support Services is hoping the community can help raise $20,000 to build a much-needed playground the school has been without for 13 years.
The kindergarten to Grade 12 alternative school serves students with special needs, such as autism, who are challenged to succeed in the traditional school setting.
With outdoor activity a critical piece to learning, the school has launched a GoFundMe campaign that has raised more than $3,000 to date.
Insight co-director Julie Chambers told KTW many of the people who have donated so far are alumni.
The amenity is needed to replace the access Insight lost to the playgrounds at Our Lady of Perpetual Help elementary across the street from its former location in North Kamloops when it moved last summer to a larger facility on McGill Road, across from the Tournament Capital Centre.
For the past year, the school has filled the gap by driving students to parks and fields, but that was cutting into instructional time and something closer to home is needed.
“We work with about 400 families in Kamloops, but we have 70 kids in an education program here every day and they need outdoor play, they need to get outside,” Chambers said. “We have kids that have lots of neuro-diversities and they really need to move to learn. To stay emotionally regulated, climbing and swinging and rockin’ and rollin’ — all that stuff helps so much.”
The new playground, which will consist of swings, tires, balance beams and a variety of obstacle courses, is to be built on a lot next door to the school that Insight has subleased.
Other fundraising efforts by the school brought in about $14,000, but most of that has already been spent to install a chain link fence around the property. The $20,000 is needed for the equipment Insight hopes to buy, Chambers said.
“It really is a neat project because the kids are working on it, the parents are working on it, the staff are putting in their own time and graduates from the program have come out and helped with the land prep on the weekends,” Chamber said.
Insight hasn’t had its own outdoor play space since 2007.
While the playground is a costly venture, the school hopes to reach its $20,000 goal before September so the area will be ready for their students upon their return to school. Playgrounds in Kamloops were closed earlier this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but have since reopened.
Chambers said they are not concerned about building the new playground during the pandemic because they will develop protocols and have enough staff to ensure the equipment will be clean at the start and end of each school day.
The children also already play together already and Insight wants to promote playing outside as it’s indoor activity that poses the higher risk right now for COVID-19, Chambers noted.
Insight moved to online learning this past spring due to COVID-19, but reopened at the end of May with a staggered schedule, with only about 30 per cent of families bringing their children back, while the rest remained online, Chambers said.
She said they have surveyed parents on what they’d like to see in the fall, noting everyone seems to want their children to return, so Insight is planning to run a longer school day to accommodate everyone.
To donate, visit the Insight GoFundMe page here.