Students at Whyte Ridge School have a brand new natural playground and outdoor classroom.
The official ribbon cutting for the new space took place on Nov. 16, though work on the outdoor classroom is still being completed.
Whyte Ridge School’s vice principal, Barb Shute, said the idea for the space came up after a group of parents decided to brighten up the school grounds and make the area a more creative and inspiring space.
Three years ago the Parent Advisory Council at the school created a special committee, "Making Our Children’s Outdoor Space Amazing" (MOCOSA), with a goal of raising funds to create the natural playground.
The committee worked with a representative from Evergreen, an organization that works to develop natural playgrounds for schools, to draw up a plan for the school. The process involved interviewing each one of the school’s students as to what would make an exciting play space.
Shute said the goal of the space was to reflect the history of the Fort Whyte area. The new playground includes symbols of a railroad, and of a fort.
Some of the biggest additions to the space are the amphitheatre and a forest, which Shute said is really only a half a dozen trees, though it’s a big change from the "barren tarmac" that was there before.
Another component to the project is a mural the school is working on with Winnipeg artist Annie Bergen, which incorporates some of the school’s curricular topics covered in each grade. The mural, as well as the finishing touches to the outdoor classroom, is expected to be completed in the spring.
Shute said the play space and the outdoor classroom is important to the students’ learning experience.
"It gives us the opportunity to teach students about nature, and it gives them the opportunity for imaginative play," Shute said.
Shute said the theme of the space is an invitation for staff to discuss the history of Fort Whyte area with the students.
"It’s an opportunity for us to talk about what’s important to Whyte Ridge and what makes a community," Shute said.
Shute added that giving children creative play spaces is important.
"(These spaces) help to enhance (childrens’) interactions with each other and build a sense of community," she said.