Seeing an opportunity to spruce up the outdoor kindergarten play area at London Road Public School (LRPS), London Road staff jumped at the chance to make it a reality. In her second year of teaching kindergarten at LRPS, Sandra Ross reached out to Race To Erase, which annually holds fundraising events in Sarnia, to see if her school could participate. “We needed money for our school yard. Even though we’re not a true not-for-profit because we are a public school, we really needed the support to make this new playground a reality,” Sandra says. “Our yard is the former staff parking lot, and much work is needed to transform it into a playground.” Years ago she had worked at a not-for-profit that was chosen as one of the charities to benefit from the Race, so she knew something about the event already.  

Incredibly, LRPS managed to enlist ten teams in the event. To participate, each team commits to raising a minimum of $500. Then ten teams had committed to raising $5,000 for the school. However, there is no limit to the amount of money that can be raised. “Our teams knocked it out of the park by raising a total of $11,570. One of our Educational Assistants raised nearly $2,000 on her own!” Sandra exclaims. Sandra said a series of challenges were held across the city including a dance challenge, a dress-up challenge, a water bottle refill challenge, and even a cement mixing challenge. One of the highlights was a local candy store providing several products that participants had to put in order from most expensive to least expensive. 

The plan for the kindergarten play area is to have it in a figure 8 shape with plenty of things for the children to get involved with. “We want to work on their gross motor skills of learning to jump on and climb on things,” Sandra explains. “We also want them to experience the benefits of learning to share and learning to play together. We have chosen a series of benches that will provide some much needed seating, but in the children’s imaginations will also no doubt be rocket ships and trains. We plan to have a sensory walk with patio stones made from a number of different textures. It might be logs or fake grass or actual brick. A couple of giant xylophones will add some music to the yard.” 

The planning for LRPS’s involvement in the Race To Erase event was overseen by principal Chris Mitchell. “Making sure the playground is safe, inviting and encouraging is our priority”, he says. “We want it to be an extension of our classroom with the play-based learning that kids need at that age. The environment is so important. Not only will these improvements benefit the school, but they will benefit the neighborhood and community.” Chris says they purposely chose not to build a typical playground because it would be closed from December to April. “We didn’t want something that was shut down for three-quarters of the school year. We look forward to seeing the kids play on it year-round for years and years to come.”