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Coming together to transform playground

Donated time, labour and materials create high quality play structure

A landslide of community support has enabled local elementary school students a whole new dimension of play.

When the Waldorf Cedar Valley School moved to its new Valleycliffe location, students had to contend with a smaller schoolyard in which to expend their energy. So when the school received a gaming grant for a play structure, its builder applied the same principals used to expand cramped urban development - build up.

"We got climbing walls and a couple of fireman's poles and rope climbing and monkey bars. I did the monkey bars underneath a bridge that goes from one tower to another, so I'm trying to make as good a use of the space as possible in a small area," said carpenter and Cedar Valley teacher Christian Seeley.

"It was amazing to see the 40 kids from fourth to sixth grade, they were all out there at the same time playing on it. It was really beautiful to see."

Seeley spent about 220 paid hours on the project along with 80 to 100 volunteer hours. And if the students' reaction to their new playground was any indication, it seemed the work paid off, and the design hit the right chord.

"This is the best play structure in the entire world!" said eight-year-old Alexander Banovic.

But what Seeley couldn't predict was the landslide of community support the project would receive from its inception in June to opening day this month. He said parents put in 250 volunteer hours over the summer, mostly on Sundays. And then there were the local companies that pitched in.

"It's been extraordinary as I've gone hunting for materials, telling them that I'm building a play structure," he said.

Companies such as Cardinal Concrete, Triton Steel, Squamish Mills and Fastenal resulted in a high quality structure with all the bells and whistles to engage young bodies and minds.

The structure's wooden framework pleases parents and students alike, since it fits the spirit of the school's Waldorf method, which practices a hands-on approach to learning in using natural materials.

"I love wood play structures!" said Mikayla Martin, age 12.

But it's not just any wood. A Mission millwright had a pile of massive beams of high quality yellow cedar that were left over from a project to build a Japanese temple. He had already slashed prices, but was further inspired to generosity when Seeley explained his project.

The rest of the wood needed - such as perimeter logs planted in "cowboy fort" style, as Seeley put it - was also generously provided for low to no cost.

"The two people I got wood from donated some of it," he said.

And the metal components, such as the fireman's pole, monkey bars, even the screws and bolts, are all made of stainless steel, and provided at a much lower cost.

Just about ready to be installed, again in keeping with the theme of using natural elements, are real rock holds that will be bolted to the climbing wall.

The final price tag for the structure will be $18,000.

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