Nanaimo's Council chambers haven't exactly been known for exuding lighthearted positivity over the last few years, but thanks to a group of local students there was plenty to go around this week.
Several grade 4 and 5 students from Departure Bay Elementary Eco-School presented their research and advice on future playground development in Nanaimo.
The well-rehearsed, comprehensive and engaging presentation featured handmade storyboards outlining potential concepts for playgrounds. Their research also included a pair of surveys, each asking more than 200 students for their opinion on a variety of playground-related topics.
"Very interesting is that equal amounts of children would pick a forest or a playground to play in. This might be good evidence for building more natural playgrounds. A great number also want water features in their playgrounds," one of the students told Council as he recited findings from the surveys.
Council was told there's a growing movement to incorporate more natural elements, like boulders, hills and logs, into modern playgrounds. "It has challenges for children of all ages, abilities and sizes."
Coun. Jerry Hong asked the class if they were nervous to appear before mayor and council.
"Yes!," responded one student emphatically. "It was very nerve-wracking and it took a lot of strength inside of me to come up here."
The presentation received rave reviews from councillors around the table.
"I think it's wonderful students of your age have the confidence to come and speak to us here at Council and express yourself so clearly," coun. Ian Thorpe said, adding he would keep the recommendations in mind when it came time to make decisions about a new playground in Maffeo Sutton Park.
The delegation appeared to touch a nerve with avid Council-watchers online too.
"Every single person in the room is smiling. The teacher looks as if he’s about to burst with pride. Well done," Erin Hemmens posted on Facebook. "I think that may be the most enjoyable 20 minutes I’ve spent in this room."
"If these children are Nanaimo's future then Nanaimo is good hands," another comment said.
Patrick McDowall, the student-teacher in the classroom, said students were researching playground designs for the City's Port Drive Waterfront Masterplan and recently completed a unit on local government.
"They are keen to experience how local government works and have their voices heard," McDowall said in a delegation request.
You can watch video of the presentation here beginning at the nine-minute mark.
On Twitter: @domabassi
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