All corners of community pitch in for inclusive swing at Surrey’s Green Timbers Elementary

“Today is a symbol that if we all work together and keep our eyes on an important goal, then we can and will accomplish that goal."

Green Timbers principal John Horstead

SURREY — The wet and dreary weather wasn’t enough to wipe off the smiles of students at Green Timbers Elementary as the school’s new inclusive swing was unveiled.

The school’s 500 or so students recently marched outside in their raingear to witness the ribbon cutting of the newly installed red swing. Cheers and applause erupted as the ribbon was sliced.

“Today is more than just officially opening the swing. It represents something more than that,” school principal John Horstead told the students, teachers and community members.

“I’ve got a lot of kids who are special-needs,” the principal explained.

Twenty-four, in fact.

“I’ve got kids who are in wheelchairs, I’ve got kids with autism. They can’t swing on the swings like regular kids. And a lot of kids with autism need that stimulation but we can’t do anything. I said, ‘I need a piece of equipment that every kid in the school can use.’”

The project has been several years of planning – and fundraising – in the making.

In July, the Now told readers about three siblings who raised $11,000 to help pay for the swing. Ladee, Kabir and Channee (aged seven, eight and 13 at the time) heard about their principal’s dream to install playground equipment that children in wheelchairs and those with disabilities could use.

The hitch? The inclusive swing he had in mind came with a price tag of $18,000 when factoring in construction costs. And after two years of fundraising, the school was still a far cry from that.

The kids got to work creating a PowerPoint presentation and a speech, and presented it at their father Gurjinder’s annual Sussex Insurance conference. In a few short minutes, they received thousands of dollars in donations, all matched by Sussex.

Surrey siblings – from left, Ladee, Channee and Kabir Sekhon – didn’t think it was fair that some kids couldn’t play. So they did something about it. (Photo: AMY REID)

Horstead described their contribution as “magical.”

A donation of $5,000 by Green Timbers Covenant Church (GTCC) was also a godsend, the principal added, and the school’s PAC raised the rest.

The church’s fundraising began two years ago through a back-to-school yard sale, explained GTCC lead pastor Andy Sebanc.

“All the funds raised at the sale, anything sold, any of the food, came directly to the school. And we matched up to $2,500 on top of that from our Fullerton Fund,” said Sebanc.

“We realize that many (people) in the neighbourhood are a different religion than us,” Sebanc said. “That doesn’t preclude us from serving them but it becomes harder to find ways to interact. So we’ve become very much involved with the school because that’s a way we can at least participate in blessing the kids. If we’re blessing the kids, then we’re blessing the neighbourhood.”

Seated in his office shortly after the ribbon-cutting, a young boy with autism walked into Horstead’s office.

The principal’s face lit up as he recalled taking the boy on the swing.

“They get on that swing, and you feel their whole body relaxed,” Horstead said excitedly, explaining many children with autism like the rhythm it provides. It’s therapeutic, he added.

But the swing isn’t the end. Horstead is dreaming bigger.

He plans to raise funds for an outdoor classroom, which would be a first for the district, the principal said.

“That would be $140,000 or so, so that’s a very ambitious goal,” he said, adding that while he recognizes the challenge, he remains optimistic.

“Today is a symbol that if we all work together and keep our eyes on an important goal, then we can and will accomplish that goal,” he said, smiling.

amy.reid@thenownewspaper.com

Just Posted

White Rock breaks temperature record

B.C. city was the hottest in all of Canada

South Surrey church members ‘praying for accused mother… for the whole process’

Lisa Batstone’s second-degree murder trial continues this week in B.C. Supreme Court

City will ask Fraser Health to remove pay parking at SMH, Surrey councillor says

Surrey’s new council has already made parking free on neighbouring city streets

VIDEO: Health and Technology District breaks ground on new building

City Centre 3 is the third of eight planned buildings: Lark Group

Spawning salmon returning to North Delta’s Cougar Creek

It’s early in the season, but the streamkeepers are hopeful it could be a good year for returns

Trudeau offers to help Pacific islands face climate change impact

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau met with the leaders from the Pacific island nations on Saturday during the APEC Summit in Papua New Guinea

Canadian military’s template for perfect recruits outdated: Vance

Gen. Jonathan Vance, the chief of defence staff says that the military has to change because the very nature of warfare is changing, particularly when it comes to cyber-warfare

‘Toxic’ chosen as the Word of the Year by Oxford Dictionaries

Other top contenders for 2018 include ‘gaslighting’ and ‘techlash’

RCMP bust illegal B.C. cannabis lab

Marijuana may be legal but altering it using chemicals violates the Cannabis Act

1 woman dead, man in hospital after ‘suspicious’ crash: police

Homicide investigators and Burnaby RCMP are investigating the fatal collision

Canada defeats Germany 29-10 in repechage, moves step closer to Rugby World Cup

Hong Kong needs a bonus-point win over Canada — scoring four or more tries — while denying the Canadians a bonus point

Avalanche Canada in desperate need of funding

The organization provides avalanche forecasting for an area larger than the United Kingdom

5 B.C. cities break temperature records

Parts of B.C. remain warm, at 10 C, while others feeling chilly

B.C. teacher’s Amazing Race takes students on Canada-wide adventure

Agassiz high school students say they had the experience of a life time

Most Read