Kaitlyn Sidhu can finally play on the same playground as her classmates at West Heights Elementary School. / Kevin Mills Photo

Mission school opens first inclusive playground

West Heights Elementary raised $30,000 to buy equipment so all kids can play

Now, every child can play – at least at Mission’s West Heights Community Elementary School.

Last year, the school announced it was going to fundraise to help create an inclusive playground. The idea came about after students at the local school asked why their friend, Kaitlyn Sidhu, couldn’t play with them.

Kaitlyn, who was 11 at the time and a Grade 5 student, has multiple medical conditions, but it’s a neurological condition that confines her to a wheelchair.

READ MORE: Students raise funds so all kids can play

Fast forward to last week, and the students, teachers and parents gathered together to open phase one of the playground improvements.

“I’m extremely proud of our school community – our kids, our PAC, the entire community of West Heights really, truly came together,” said school principal Mikel Brogan.

“The motto of our school is ‘To make the dream work it takes team work’ and this is such an amazing example of that.”

The school managed to raise close to $30,000 to purchase the new equipment needed to make the playground more accessible.

The improvements to the playground include sensory panels, a ramp and an interactive train structure that is wheelchair accessible.

“It’s not just for students who may be in a wheelchair, it’s for students who may have different abilities and skill sets so they can come and play, and play with other kids.”

The playground won’t just be used by school children explained Brogan. During non-school hours, the entire community will be using it.

Brogan said the work isn’t finished as a second phase is needed which could include a full inclusive playground and an inclusive garden/outdoor classroom.

“I think projects are a great way to bring communities together.”

This is the first inclusive playground in the Mission School District.

“I would hope that in a few short years, this won’t event be a talking point. Every playground will have inclusive pieces so that no student will be left out.”

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