A couple of weeks ago, a group of children were invited to go outside to help set up the playground and do a “safety check.” Upon arriving to the outdoor area, the children were quick to take note of the excess water in the playground and seemingly flooded area outside the fence. They continued to inspect all areas of the playground and had a couple of additional requests for things to be done which have since been categorized as “wish list” items. These included putting windows in the playhouse, adding a door, and creating a swimming pool for the water to drain in to so as to avoid the flooding.
Whether you are familiar with our playground or not, the drainage has been a problem for quite some time and has been unaddressed. With the spark from the children, we took it upon ourselves to call a meeting in the Elder College room with the initial four children (A, M, B, and G). We brought clipboards, pencils and paper and further discussed our concerns. I asked the children if they would like to speak with our Community Recreation Co-ordinator and he was called in. The children went around and each expressed their concerns in a very matter of fact way. Jason (our Community Recreation Co-ordinator) was extremely receptive and commended them for taking the initiative to make sure their playground is well kept and maintained. They asked for new rocks (drain rock), for the playhouse to be fixed (and windows to be added), a swimming pool, and to stop the flooding. Jason asked for us to write up a list and deliver it to him and said he would get back to us on what could be done.
The next day T, A, M, and B were invited back to the Elder College Room to brainstorm additional ways to stop the flood. Drawings were done up to illustrate their thinking. Seeing this process through with the children not only demonstrates that their ideas matter but also that they have a voice and can be part of something bigger to create change in the world.
“There’s a river and the water can go to the river here.” – M
“I would build maybe a little plug so the water would drain into the plug.” – T
“You build under a new playground with a ninja turtle slide. I would block the flood and there’s a lock under the flood so it can’t go out and there’s a plug there too.” – A
“Well we could just bring a pool and blow it up so it would drain into the pool.” – T
“The water went all the way to here then down, down, down, then it dropped right here. This is the ocean right here and mine’s going right into the plug right here.” – T (in reference to his drawing)
How’s the water going to get from the Preschool to the Ocean?
“Um well, you know where the Pacific Ocean is? Thats where it’s going to go. So under the street and under the runway where the airplanes land.” – B
The following day, B and I wrote a note and delivered it to Jason’s office. By the end of last week, three maintenance workers from CRD came down to assess the area and a plan was put in motion to deliver new drain rock and to rectify the flooded area outside the playground space. We were delighted and pleasantly surprised by the speediness of this course of action.
Tuesday drain-rock was delivered to the playground. We requested that they leave a number of piles for the children to shovel and smooth out. On Wednesday T, O, M, G, A, and B were hard at work distributing the drain-rock. As demonstrated in the photo below, there was a real sense of joy and deep satisfaction as they not only shovelled the rocks but also took part in something bigger.
We are so proud of the children for taking the initiative to ask CRD for new rocks to prevent our play area from flooding and for what has come from the dialogue created. Last week Erdem Excavating was on site creating a new pathway outside our playground to resolve the saturated area along the fence. Wood chips were delivered as well which has created a lot of excitement for the children to watch from the window. There is even talk of replacing our playhouse which we would be thrilled to co-design alongside the children. Stay tuned for the next blog post on Children as Change-makers in the Community!