Play­ground project cre­ates frenzy

North River ele­men­tary school re­ceives na­tional award to help with con­struc­tion

The Compass - - OPINION - THE COM­PASS BY TERRY ROBERTS

Great start

If there was an ex­cite­ment me­tre on the wall at All Hal­lows Ele­men­tary in North River on Thurs­day, Feb. 14, its read­ings likely would have been off the charts.

The en­tire school com­mu­nity clus­tered in the gym­na­sium early af­ter­noon on Valen­tine’s Day for an an­nounce­ment that sent the 420-stu­dents in kinder­garten to Grade 6 into a frenzy — a new play­ground will be built at the school on June 8.

That’s cor­rect. Con­struc­tion will take place on one day.

And that’s not the only unique thing about what’s been dubbed the All Hal­lows Ele­men­tary Com­mu­nity Park Project.

A video played on a gi­ant screen fea­tur­ing Ian Hill of a char­i­ta­ble or­ga­ni­za­tion known as Let Them Be Kids re­vealed the project will re­ceive a “Help­ing Hands Award” to en­sure the play­ground be­comes a re­al­ity.

What does this mean? For ev­ery dol­lar raised lo­cally for the pur­chase of play­ground equip­ment, Let Them Be Kids will match. What’s more, Let Them Be Kids will pro­vide a wide va­ri­ety of ex­per­tise and sup­port, in­clud­ing a project coach and tech­ni­cal and en­gi­neer­ing sup­port.

Such an award has proven its worth in this re­gion be­fore. In 2012, a wildly suc­cess­ful play­ground project was com­pleted at Acreman Ele­men­tary in Green’s Har­bour, with some $80,000 in match­ing funds contributed by Let Them Be Kids.

Let Them Be Kids ap­proves sev­eral dozen such awards each year across Canada to as­sist wih the con­struc­tion of play­grounds and skate­board parks.

Hill said his or­ga­ni­za­tion re­ceives any­where from 300 to 400 ap­pli­ca­tions an­nu­ally, and All Hal­lows stood out among those most wor­thy, de­spite a rig­or­ous ap­pli­ca­tion process.

Mean­while, the fundrais­ing cam­paign got off to an en­cour­ag­ing start, with Port de Grave MHA Glenn Lit­tle­john turn­ing over a $15,000 cheque from the pro­vin­cial government.

The All Hal­lows school coun­cil fol­lowed that with an over­sized nov­elty cheque con­tain­ing the fol­low­ing fig­ure — $20,000.

The Ro­man Catholic par­ish in the area has also made land avail­able for the park, which also rep­re­sents a sig­nif­i­cant do­na­tion.

But the fundrais­ing is far from over, and an ad­hoc com­mit­tee com­prised mostly of par­ents and staff will now com­mence a cam­paign to con­vince area res­i­dents, busi­nesses and or­ga­ni­za­tions to con­trib­ute “time, tal­ent and trea­sure.”

And judg­ing by the at­mos­phere at the an­nounce­ment, it ap­pears the park project will elicit wide­spread sup­port. In ad­di­tion to a floor blanked by blue-shirted, fresh-faced stu­dents, the au­di­ence also in­cluded many com­mu­nity, re­li­gious and busi­ness lead­ers from the re­gion, and there were plenty of en­thu­si­as­tic and sup­port­ive com­ments as they filed out of the school fol­low­ing the cel­e­bra­tion.

It was hard not to get caught up in the ex­cite­ment as the stu­dents sang, danced and cheered their hearts out for a cause that will do more than just see the con­struc­tion of a play­ground. Those who sup­port the project say it will also help strengthen the bond that ex­ists be­tween the eight com­mu­ni­ties served by the school.

Though it has not yet been an­nounced, it’s also be­lieved the park project will be ded­i­cated to a fallen mem­ber of the mil­i­tary.

Un­safe site

A ded­i­cated group of adults, led by par­ent vol­un­teers Ed­die Rus­sell and Vin­cent Daw­son, have been lead­ing an ini­tia­tive to up­grade the play­ground at the rear of the school.

It was off-lim­its to stu­dents for sev­eral months in 2012 be­cause of un­safe and out­dated equip­ment, and only re­opened in the fall af­ter a con­certed ef­fort by par­ents to re­move old equip­ment and spruce up the site.

The ul­ti­mate goal is to de­sign and build a play park that will al­low chil­dren to play, ex­er­cise and learn in a safe and stim­u­lat- ing en­vi­ron­ment, and be en­joyed for many years to come.

Stu­dents will also play a vi­tal role in the de­sign of the park through a process called “dotmoc­racy,” al­low­ing them to vote on the struc­tures and ameni­ties they would like to see at the site.

“This is an ex­cit­ing time for our school com­mu­nity,” Prin­ci­pal Kevin Giles noted. • We­blink: www.ahe.ltbk.ca • Twit­ter: @ALLHal­lowsPark

Pho­tos by Terry Roberts/the Com­pass

Stu­dents are seen ex­it­ing the gym­na­sium at All Hal­lows Ele­men­tary in North River on Feb. 14 fol­low­ing an an­nounce­ment that a new play­ground will be built near the school on June 8. The stu­dents were un­der­stand­ably ex­cited. Pic­tured here are, from left, Jessie Pen­ney, Connor Ryan, Michael Cole, Ash­ton Vale, Jenna Ryan, Katie Nasci­mento and Colby Pryor.

Stu­dents at All Hal­lows Ele­men­tary in North River sang, danced and cheered their hearts out dur­ing a spe­cial cer­e­mony at the school on Feb. 14. A new play­ground will be con­structed near the school on June 8.

The All Hal­lows Ele­men­tary school coun­cil pre­sented a $20,000 cheque to the All Hal­lows Ele­men­tary Com­mu­nity Park Project. Shown here tak­ing part in the pre­sen­ta­tion are, from left, Ed­die Rus­sell, Colleen Pet­ten, Sharon Cor­bett and Vin­cent Daw­son.

Port de Grave MHA Glenn Lit­tle­john (left) is seen pre­sent­ing a cheque for $15,000 to play­ground com­mit­tee mem­bers Ed­die Rus­sell and Vin­cent Daw­son.

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