LOWER ONSLOW – Youth in Lower Onslow will soon have a natural playground at their disposal.
Work has already started prepping the grounds for the Lower Onslow Play Space behind the community centre. The centre’s president, Jennifer McKay, says the playground will be up and running in the autumn, and grand opening celebration is being planned.
“This is not your typical swing set and slide playground,” she said. “There will be a tidal bore feature – we wanted to bring in everything around the community.”
The play space, being designed by Cobequid Trail Consulting, will also feature ropes for youth to walk across, as if they’d be crossing a river. There will be a mud kitchen as well.
“It’s exactly what you’re thinking it is,” she said, of the mud kitchen. “There will be an old fashioned lever that kids can lift and lower for water, with sand and dirt below to play in.”
Throughout the play space, visitors will find sensory items below their feet, such as grass, gravel, and crusher dust. It’s also fully accessible, for those in a wheelchair or who may have other disabilities.
The playground will be fenced in, with a seating area for parents.
“There will be a bear tunnel, rock climbing hill, and a slide built into the hill,” said McKay.
The natural playground has been a dream of the preschool for about 10 years. The preschool, said McKay, operates out of the community centre’s basement.
“But we’ve been really hard about it for the past year.”
Throughout the year, fundraising has been done and grant applications approved. Scotiabank just made a $3,000 donation after matching funds from the third annual Onslow Rocks event. The project will cost about $60,000.
“We need grants and people like those at Scotiabank,” said McKay. “Without them, we wouldn’t be able to do this.”
Along with Scotiabank’s contribution and other fundraising the centre has done, they’ve received a grant from the Community Park Funding Program through Colchester County, and an RFD grant from the province.
Through the annual Onslow Rocks event, upgrades have been made to the centre. From the first year’s event, wheelchair ramps and a lift were installed. Last year, the inside of the centre was renovated to become accessible – work was done on the floors and in the bathrooms, and the walls and doorways were widened.
Through each of the three Onslow Rocks events, Scotiabank employees volunteered time and matched funds, giving $3,000 in each of the three years in existence.
Randy Jollie, a small business advisor with Scotiabank, said the bank encourages employees volunteer, but it’s not necessary.
“We put up a sign up list and if people don’t volunteer, they don’t volunteer,” he said.
Since the Bright Future program started in 2011, Jollie said the Truro team has seen more than $2 million raised, with the branch distributing $1.4 million to local non-profit organizations.
The annual golf tournament for the Colchester East Hants Health Centre Foundation saw roughly $49,000 raised.
Erin Vandermeulen, with the foundation, said it’s one of the larger fundraisers the foundation hosts each year.
“Scotiabank graciously and generously matched all the funds raised from the different activities during the golf tournament,” she said. “We had things like 50/50, games and other activities out on the course.”
The event was held June 21 at the Truro Golf Club. Scotiabank contributed $5,000 from the event.
“The money is used to purchase priority medical equipment, or for training programs for staff,” said Vandermeulen.