'Pathetic' east-end schoolyard gets playground
An east-end Montreal schoolyard once derided as "pathetic" by a kindergarten teacher finally has a playground, thanks to nearly 200 volunteers who spent Saturday building it.
Edward Murphy School on Pierre-de-Coubertin Street in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve had an empty, weed-riddled asphalt yard for years, until parent Laura Saragosa decided enough was enough.
"Even when they were playing soccer, the ball used to hit a weed and it used to stop," Saragosa said.
The weeds sometimes got so tall, children would play hide-and-seek among them. And the lack of any play apparatus — not even painted lines on the ground — meant students too often turned to violent games to fill the time, she said.
So starting last fall, Saragosa spearheaded an effort to overhaul the yard, in conjunction with the Washington, D.C.-based non-profit organization KaBOOM!, which builds play spaces for children.
About 175 volunteers showed up Saturday to implement the first phase of the renovation, a new 2,500-square-foot playground that incorporates a slide, climbing wall and monkey bars. The volunteers assembled the structure and hauled more than 40,000 square feet of surfacing material.
It was completed just in time: the elementary school's 300 students head back to class Aug. 31.
Assessments from those students were all glowing, with one calling the new playground "nice and colourful" and another professing excitement at the chance to play in a "beautiful park."
It's a far cry from kindergarten teacher Marie-Lyne Lebel's take on the old yard, which, she told the Suburban newspaper, was "pathetic."
The final two phases of the schoolyard plan will eventually see the installation of basketball nets, picnic tables and grass, as well as the resurfacing of a portion of the asphalt.
Two other schools in Montreal's English board, St. Dorothy Elementary in Saint-Michel and Edinburgh School in Montreal West, have already received new playgrounds through KaBOOM!
"There's a saying that it takes a village to raise a child and I believe it's true," Edward Murphy principal Nancy Richer said. "We do have a wonderful village and it shows in the community. Our parents work so well together and our students work so well together. I love this community."