New West PAC second in national contest

Organizers raising funds for a playground for the new Qayqayt elementary school are contemplating installing it in two stages.

The likelihood comes in the wake of the John Robson elementary parent advisory council (PAC) coming up short in its campaign to win a national contest.

When the voting for the $20,000 first prize in the CST Inspired Minds stopped early Monday morning, the PAC was about 500 votes short of the winner. However, that means the playground will receive $10,000 for being a runner-up.

“It’s definitely a start, it’s not what we hoped for. It definitely helps,” said organizer Ronda Field.

That puts the project needing another $50,000 to build the $130,000 complete playground it wants. Qayqayt opens in September with most of Robson’s current students transferring there. The PAC has set an installation date of Oct. 18. But to have the equipment in time it must be ordered by the end of July, said Field.

If they don’t get all the money they’ll order what they can and install it, Field said, with the remainder hopefully being done next spring.

She added the big concern for delaying full installation is Qayqayt's playing field won't be ready for kids to trample on until next spring leaving the playground as their only play option.

Field said she will persist in seeking corporate donations, making grant applications and entering other contests.

"That's a lot of money, $50,000 is a lot of money," she said. "It's a long road. It's about the kids. I could throw in the towel, but that wouldn't benefit anybody. I really want those kids to have a place to play."

Earlier this year the PAC received $5,000 from the Aviva Community Fund for being a finalist in its 2013 contest. The top prize in that one was $100,000 and she'll likely reapply for the 2014 version. Both Aviva and CST used online voting, and Field used social media and other traditional communication means daily to get the vote out for Qayqayt.

"Much as I hate to annoy people and ask them to vote every day, it's almost a better way for us to do it than knocking on doors (asking for donations)," said Field.

Although it won't be official until June 23, the CST Inspired Minds contest was won by the Ten Oaks Project, an Ottawa-based group that has a camp for children from the LGBTQ (Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgenger, queer) communities.

"They had a very strong connected following," said Field.

• The official grand opening of the Save-On-Foods store that has replaced the former Thrifty Foods in Sapperton will be held Saturday with the proceeds from the event's barbecue going to the Qayqayt playground. It will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with all sorts of family-friendly events.

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