When the bell rings at Princess Elizabeth Public School, students head outside to play.
But instead of a playground, they run around on a muddy, barren field.
The former playground's rickety equipment was declared unsafe for use last year. With yellow caution tape surrounding the condemned play structure, students were forced to find creative ways to enjoy their recess.
“We mostly just play on the grass,” said Princess Elizabeth kindergarten student Brianna Carrol.
Students created new games to make up for the lack of slides and monkey bars, “but sometimes you play (the same game) over and over and over and it gets boring,” said Aislin Carrol, a Grade 2 student.
The condemned play structure has since been taken down. However, there is hope, as the school recently launched a $100,000 fundraising campaign to purchase a new playground.
“A playground is more than just equipment," principal Annette Blake said. "The whole point is to make it have a little something for everyone (in the school and the community).”
Blake hopes to not only add play equipment for the children, but also new benches, gardens and sports fields for the neighbourhood to enjoy.
“We really need a new playground," seven year-old Aislin said. "It’s not much fun playing without one.”
Princess Elizabeth recently held a turkey bingo, raising $2,000 to start the campaign. Blake is aware of the long road ahead, but is optimistic that the school will have its new playground within three years.
“I just have to have the patience to recognize the successes we’ve had,” Blake said. “Hopefully as we build momentum others will help us with our dream.”
Blake said the campaign isn't just about giving students a new playground. She wants them to have pride of place.
“The playground is part of the vision of making (the students) proud of the school," she said. "They need to have a place where they feel safe and comfortable.”
Blake thanked parent council members Sara Chiarot, Krissy Carrol and Sara Hiebert for being the “driving forces” behind the fundraising campaign.
Another supporter is Dave Carrol, better known as Captain Kindness.
“(We) have a vision to see the school used as a beacon of hope and social hub for the surrounding community,” Carrol said.
Students will help select the features of their new playground, making it a true community project.
“Princess Elizabeth is a great place, but it needs some help to make it better," Blake said. "The kids deserve it to be better."
Blake encourages anyone who would like to contribute to the new playground to drop off monetary donations or raffle prizes at the school office. Cheques marked for the Princess Elizabeth playground can be made out to the Grand Erie District School Board.