Palsson Elementary School students surround their small playground.The school community is fundraising to add on to the much needed expansion of the playground.

Palsson Elementary School students surround their small playground.The school community is fundraising to add on to the much needed expansion of the playground.

Last stand for the playground

Palsson school: Fundraising drive at a crucial juncture

For a core group of dedicated volunteers and the children of Lake Cowichan, time is quickly running out.

The bid by Palsson Elementary School to win a $50,000 grant to construct a new and badly needed playground at the school is coming down to the wire.

“We’re coming up to the semi-finals and that’s our last chance to make it in and be able to win our grant,” said Palsson PAC Chair, Karen Hoskins.

“We just need everyone to register on the Aviva website, then go on the site each day and vote. It’s simple and fast and costs you nothing but a few moments of your time.”

The Palsson PAC has already fundraised $2,000 and School District 79 has budgeted $8,000 to assist with the project. If Palsson gains the community support it needs in the voting race, it could win $50,000 in grant money from Aviva Canada.

Even if the small school does not come out on top in its category, if it is able to make it to the top ten, it would automatically receive a grant of $5,000.

“We’ve been so busy trying to get out there and get support for this,” said Hoskins. “I’ve gone all over the valley getting the word out to schools, local government, the radio stations, just everywhere.”

Supporting this project is really as simple as taking a few moments each day, to do a few clicks on a computer keyboard. All you need is access to the internet and a valid email address.

Simply go to www.avivacommunityfund.org and follow the directions to register. Once registered you just search for Palsson Elementary in the projects and when their presentation comes up simply click the “vote now” icon.

Each supporter may cast one ballot each day, with this round already under way and running until Nov. 25. Hoskins is happy to help out anyone having problems registering or voting and may be contacted at 250-749-7410.

“If we make it to the semi-finals we would be notified after Nov. 25 and would have five days to submit our budget,” said Hoskins. “We already have our budget all completed and ready to go, so virtually all we need now is for our community to come out and support us, by casting a ballot each day until the competition closes.”

Local businesses are pitching in by displaying posters for the project around town and Lake Cowichan Country Grocer is helping out in a big way by including a notice about the project with each bag of groceries sold.

The group has already received letters of support from numerous community members including the mayor, parents and teachers to include in their proposal. Letters of support are always welcomed and may be dropped off at Palsson or by contacting Hoskins.

The goal of building a larger playground more suited to the ages and numbers of the student body at Palsson is just part of the project. The school’s playing field is unusable for a good part of the year due to drainage issues and the group hopes to rectify the problems thus giving the kids adequate space for outdoor play year-round.

Lake Cowichan and district schools have been hit hard over the past decades with cut-backs, closures and a lack of funds for upgrades. Elementary schools in Caycuse, Honeymoon Bay and Youbou are already now just memories and in the town of Lake Cowichan A.B. Greenwell Elementary and Stanley Gordon stand vacant and boarded up.

For new families considering moving here, the proximity of modern, well equipped schools is paramount in their decision on where to settle. Giving Palsson a helping hand in upgrading their playground will help make Lake Cowichan a go-to destination for families looking to resettle.

“This is important for the whole town, not just the students at Palsson right now,” says Hoskins. “All we need to make this happen is for people to get out and vote.”