Thanks to a $10,000 grant, a local school has a unique tool to help kids play and learn. The new climbing wall at Minnewasta School went in over the Christmas break, and students came back in January to find a new way to play in their gym.
“It’s been a lot of fun, they enjoy it,” physical education teacher Kyle Turnbull said. “In terms of the phys ed side of things, it’s the best all-around piece of equipment because they’re using muscles they don’t usually use. Our board right now is focused a lot on ‘adventurous achievers and risky play,’ so it’s teaching kids that they can make some decisions on their own while they’re climbing that they may not be making outside.”
The wall is a traverse rock wall, which means students climb up and across rather than just straight up. The wall itself consists of five panels, and each rock is removable so the wall can be adjusted for new challenges. “Once they get used to a pattern we usually try to move it around a little bit,” Turnbull said. “We’ve got all kinds of additional add-ons on top of the regular rock holds, so we’ve got all the letters, all the numbers.”
The wall has pieces that can hold hula hoops and pool noodles to make the wall a bit more challenging. The wall is magnetic, so students can do things like start a story and climb the wall to grab letters or words to continue it.
The wall was the result of a $10,000 grant from Enbridge. Turnbull said the school had applied for grants and tried raising money through a Parent Advisory Committee, but nothing was coming through. “We weren’t giving up but we were putting the rock wall on the back burner,” he said. “Out of the blue Andrew Plett from Enbridge came over… he apologized for the traffic and said they had budgets to help with community projects.”
The school picked the exact wall they wanted, applied to Enbridge and their funding was approved the next day.
“The worst part was we got it shipped to us in early November and they couldn’t put it up until Christmas time,” Turnbull said. “We were watching boxes of rocks come in the mail and it was kind of disappointing not being able to see it on there.”
Turnbull said students have been considerate of safety and respectful of the equipment. “Everyone knows their limits,” he said. “They know that if they get halfway across and they’re tired or they think they’re going to fall they just step down and come back and get in line again.”
Turnbull said the wall has endless games that it can be used for, and students have been enjoying their new climbing wall.