Forest Glen Public School’s playground fundraising campaign is off to a flying start

Local businesses and residents support the Falcons’ initiative to buy new, accessible and inclusive playground equipment


  • Community   Thu, Feb 17th, 2022   Nigel Gordijk
Shannon McInnis enlisted the help of New Hamburg’s Twice the Deal Pizza for the playground fundraising campaign. (Photo supplied)


Shannon McInnis enlisted the help of New Hamburg’s Twice the Deal Pizza for the playground fundraising campaign. (Photo supplied)


A fundraising campaign to install a new playground at Forest Glen Public School in New Hamburg has taken off, with $3,000 donated in the first week.

The current playground equipment was installed more than two decades ago, and it’s not accessible to everyone at the school.

Mother of two Shannon McInnis, who sits on the school’s parent council, recalls when the replacement was initially discussed.

“I heard that the playground was in need of repair, but it was the first time I heard that the school was actively working to get a new one built,” she said. Both her children attend Forest Glen, in Junior Kindergarten and Grade 1.

The equipment has considerable wear and tear and is in need of repairs. It also has height and age restrictions, so only students who are five and older can use it.

“I’ve personally been through this with my son when he was in kindergarten,” said McInnis. “I would hear how disappointed he was that he wasn’t allowed to go use the playground.”

She said the new equipment would be more inclusive.

“That was the biggest driving factor in trying to get a new playground built for the kids. Yes, it needs repair, yes, it’s old, but most importantly, it doesn’t allow every kid from kindergarten to grade eight to use it.”

McInnis also wants the new playground to be accessible to students who use wheelchairs.

“This is something that I think is well overdue, and something that I really want to do my best to try to get the funds for, so that we can get this done as soon as possible.”

The current equipment will eventually come to the end of its lifespan, said the school’s principal, Tamara Kaufman. She agreed that the new facilities should be accessible to all ages, and include younger students.

Kaufman added that the school is actively involved in the project, and it was Forest Glen staff who helped to identify the need for a new play structure. “Our school council eagerly accepted the project and have been working to fundraise within the community. It is certainly a joint effort between the school and the school council.”

An early-stage concept has been designed, but this is likely to change before construction begins.

An early-stage concept illustration shows a more inclusive playground, although the actual design might change before construction begins, said Forest Glen’s principal, Tamara Kaufman.

The new play structure will cost about $50,000, with Waterloo Region District School Board (WRDSB) providing the surfacing and groundwork preparation. The remaining budget will be covered by a grant from the Township of Wilmot, which will be handed over later this year, and support from the community.

“Many families have made a donation to WEFI (Waterloo Education Foundation Inc.) and earmarked the money to the Forest Glen playground fund,” Kaufman said. Donations can be made at www.wrdsb.ca/wefi/give-the-gift/, and donors need to include a note specifying that it’s for Forest Glen’s playground.

Harvir Sidhu, who owns the Twice the Deal Pizza in New Hamburg, didn’t hesitate to support the fundraiser after McInnis contacted him.

“It was a no-brainer. I said, ‘Absolutely, it’s for the kids.’”

The Baden resident said he’s always eager to give back to the people who keep him in business.

“This is a community that I was born and raised in. I went to school here, and I have three boys under five now, so they’re going to be using these playgrounds. It was an instant connection, and I feel like I should give back and support the people who are supporting me.”

The Twice the Deal fundraiser ran for four days during the last week of January. When customers placed their order and mentioned the “Falcon” deal – referring to Forest Glen’s nickname – Sidhu donated the profit.

McInnis said, “Harv is a wonderful business owner, as well as somebody who really promotes supporting the community.”

The pizza campaign brought in $1,000. Unexpectedly, that was matched by the Gilmore family, which owns Hillcrest Motors, and Bill and Jill Fleming, the Sobeys New Hamburg franchise owners, bringing the total raised to $3,000.

McInnis said those two cheques weren’t solicited and came as a complete surprise.

“I’m very, very grateful.”