An accessible playground at Eileen Madson Primary (EMP) in Invermere has become a reality thanks to a young girl’s dream.

In early 2013, Grade 3 EMP student Madison Roe had the idea of having equipment in the primary school’s playground that would allow all children – regardless of their abilities – to play together.

“So she had a birthday party and asked for donations and raised over $500 which purchased a swing,” said EMP principal Lisa Tenta.

The Grade 3 student’s charity had a snowball effect — two other students decided to host similarly themed birthdays. Between the three primary students, $900 was donated toward the accessible playground project.

Staff at Kootenay Savings caught wind of the donations and contributed over $1,200 of their own. Soon after, the Panorama Foundation came through with the generous contribution of $30,000. More donations were to follow, including from the local Badgers Hockey Team as well as funding from the Ministry of Education Playground Equipment Grant and the School Community Connections Grant Program.

The grand opening of EMP’s accessible playground was held on Thursday, May 8th – just over a year after Madison initiated the project.

Among the ten to 12 special guests who attended were Madison, who is now a Grade 4 student at J.A. Laird, seven-year-old Kingston Peters from Radium Hot Springs who doesn’t have use of his legs and relies on a wheelchair, and David Thompson Secondary School (DTSS) student Kate Gibbs, a former EMP student who has cerebral palsy — Kate donated the first $100 of her first-ever paycheque toward the playground.

“She was just over the moon,” said Ms. Tenta, “and she just said she wished when she went to school there was something like this for her to play on.”

Also represented were Kootenay Savings and the Panorama Foundation.

“Our school district maintenance department was also thanked because they did a tremendous job doing the installation,” said Ms. Tenta. “And we had our whole school outside celebrating.”

Madison, Kingston and Kate officiated at the ribbon cutting ceremony and everyone present enjoyed healthy blueberry muffins specially baked for the event by the DTSS culinary program.

Recognition was given to Madison Roe and special thanks to the Panorama Foundation, Tire Stewardship, EMP PAC, Ministry of Education, School District No. 6 Maintenance Department, the gals at Kootenay Savings, Badgers Hockey Team, EMP students, and former student Kate Gibbs, said Ms. Tenta.