Rubber playground is fun ... and safe

Top of the class: Bruce Simons Jr with son Ace, 5, at the new rubber playground at Devonshire Preschool (Photograph by Akil Simmons)

“Rubber” playgrounds are emerging across the island after a deal struck by the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Bermuda Workforce Development department and a local labourer.

One playground is being installed at Devonshire Preschool on Corkscrew Hill, Devonshire, where a demonstration was given to the Minister of Home Affairs, Patricia Gordon-Pamplin, yesterday morning.

Bruce Simons and his wife Margo are the owners of High End Construction and they came up with the idea of reconstructing the playgrounds in schools using recyclable rubber mulch — making it safer for children to play.

The couple has grandchildren and were worried about their safety at the island’s parks but also they wanted to give back to the community by providing employment opportunities.

With that, they developed a scheme dubbed Project Bounce, a hands-on training programme held at the Bermuda College that teaches those interested about surface laying.

Pandora Glasford, Workforce Development training manager, told The Royal Gazette: “This programme started with Mr Simons actually contacting us and saying that he has a programme to get individuals certified in surface-laying for playgrounds.

“From that conversation we went into our database to seek out unemployed individuals who may be interested in participating in the coursework.

“We ended up with these gentlemen who are very eager and we started them off with an orientation programme at the department. We gave them assessment tests to realise what their skill sets are and then they started the programme with soft skills training before they were given the opportunity to learn the actual core application of the product. So now they are learning knowledge skills and aptitude after three weeks of training.”

Project Bounce also includes teachings from an overseas specialist in the hope that trainees will complete their certification and have sustained employment by being able to find clients and apply the product. The targets will be playgrounds, public and private schools and possibly condo complexes.

Mr Simons says he’s “extremely passionate” about the project.

He said: “Our goal is to do all the parks and both private and public schools. We have already done Saltus and Warwick Academy and a few public schools as well. But eventually we need to conform to a standard because if you relax on your standard, you relax on your safety and if we do that, a child can get injured.

“When we first started working with these men they were looking for hope and because we were looking for that as well, it was a win, win.

“Our company wants to do a lot and we saw their goals and aspirations and it just fits. However, we need to get the community involved and support the initiative because there are a lot of parent-teacher associations that simply cannot afford it.

“We don’t want to take the risk of a child falling and being injured or God forbid, losing them to death from a fall. We need the community to come out and support to help keep the kids safe.”

June 30, 2016