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Dalefield sets sights on new playground

Dalefield School students are “absolutely pumped” to get a new playground next year and are now focussed on raising $25,000 towards the $160,000 total price tag.

At a community consultation evening held at the school this week, parents, students, and teachers were invited to vote for their favourite ‘events’ or features to include within the new playground, designed by Auckland firm Playground People.

The new facility will be “challenging”, acting principal Willy Jephson said, “so kids right up to year 8 will want to use it”, and includes opportunities for balancing, sliding, climbing, and gathering.

The old playground was removed to accommodate a purpose-built car park, leaving the students without a playground for over a year.

“A new car park was necessary, but that left us without a place for the kids to play,” Jephson said.

“I do want to acknowledge that without the playground, it has been quite the experience to see how creative the kids have been. They’ve been in the trees, they’ve been building huts, they’ve been creating games, they’ve been absolutely amazing.”

The Ministry of Education stipulates schools must use board funding to pay for a new playground.

Jephson acknowledged the cost “is quite the sum of cash” but is confident “it can be done”.

Cimone Grayson, a parent at the school and “absolute whiz at applying for grants”, is making applications to several funders, including Eastern and Central Trust and the Lotteries Community Facility Fund.

But, Jephson explained, “the grants are much more successful when we can show that the community supports these facilities”.

Dalefield’s parent-teacher association is taking the lead on raising the school’s $25,000 contribution.

With over $5000 in the bank already, Claire Wells, who is on the fundraising committee, is confident the target can be reached.

“We’ve done quite a few sausage sizzles, and people have worked at the A and P Show and Toast Martinborough. Next year, we have our country fair in March, and we are going to need a lot of help with that.”

Wells acknowledged “the really amazing core group of people that have just relentlessly been working really hard” to raise money.

Dalefield student Isla [11] has been helping with sausage sizzles at her brother’s motocross events that have raised nearly $900 over two days.

She thinks the new playground will be “a lot of fun for all the kids here next year”.

Tickets for the school’s online raffle can be bought from its Facebook page, www.facebook.com/dalefieldschool

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