St. Paul Elementary School inaugurates new playground
Once upon a time about three years ago, according to former St. Paul Elementary School principal Ann Cohen, the children were asked what they would most like to have in the school yard.
“A play park,” pupils who were gathered in the school gym with parents and school board officials responded to Cohen. Years before that, the children and everyone else had already been waiting for a park. Then some parents decided to do something about it.
“They got on top of a chair and they calmly and slowly one at a time got on the principal’s back,” said Cohen. “And this didn’t make the principal upset at all, because now she was bigger and taller and more ferocious like a lion. And there many people at the school board who remember that lion.”
A group effort
Up to 100 St. Paul Elementary parents came together to make sure the idea for the play park would become a reality, said Cohen. All the work they did in conjunction with the City of Laval – which lent some help in the form of expertise in creating playgrounds – came to fruition on Oct. 12 when the $400,000 playground was officially inaugurated at the school on Honfleur St. in the Duvernay district of Laval.
There’s no doubt that recesses will never be the same at St. Paul Elementary from now on. The playground was inaugurated as numerous studies demonstrate that there are many benefits to having active recess periods in schools. The studies suggest that children with more than 15 minutes of recess a day are far more attentive in class than children who had shorter recess breaks or none at all.
A modern facility
In an address, Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board vice-chairman Nazario Facchino said the project was “the result of parents wanting more modern equipment for their children to enjoy their recreational time at school.
“Parents alone could not make such a grandiose project come to life,” he said, “so they turned to the City of Laval for help. And the result is an amazing playground that maximizes fun without compromising safety or quality.
Besides help from the SWLSB and the City of Laval, the project also received assistance from the Conseil régional des élus de Laval (CRÉ) and the Forum Jeunesse Laval. It also benefited from the CRÉ’s AVEC program, which promotes sustainable development and eco-citizenship.
CRÉ’s AVEC program
Facchino singled out the AVEC program. “Its main goal is to develop civic responsibility in young people through an educational and preventive approach,” he said. “Over the years many Sir Wilfrid Laurier schools in Laval have benefited from the support of AVEC to realize projects such as the St. Paul playground.”
The SWLSB’s vice-chair also expressed special thanks to Cohen. “Ann, you are a natural leader,” he said, “and have definitely given your two cents along the way to making this playground one that will be appreciated by the entire community for many years.”