Confederation Park is an old school.
It's got peeling paint, crumbling concrete, and a playground full of weeds.
When you walk inside, that "old building" smell hits you. You know the one I mean. You smell it in schools and churches and community centers that are well past their prime. It's not a bad smell, it's just an old one. I've always found something comforting about that smell. You know you're in place steeped with history and roots when you catch just a whiff of it.
Confederation Park is a small school.
With seven grades and a little over 200 students, it's not the numeric powerhouse of the district. There are combined classes, a small gym, and only one main hallway that runs through the entire building. But every time I walk down that hallway, I see a face I know and can greet that face by name.
In a school like Confed, you find out pretty quick that if you want to make a difference, you can. You just have to be willing to make a contribution. And there are no shortage of opportunities for those.
Two years ago, a team of two school moms decided that a new play structure was needed for the playground. Play structures are expensive. Very expensive. School districts don't go around installing new ones - that's the role of parent advisory councils.
These two moms stepped up and began a campaign to raise money for the new structure. They lobbied organizations and wrote grant proposals. They got the kids on board last year by doing a penny drive. They kept at it with some grassroots work ethic and a tonne of enthusiasm. They believed in it. They wanted it for their kids and for their school community. By the end of last year, the goal was reached and the structure was purchased. It was put up during the summer and has been enjoyed by the students everyday since then.
Not a committee of professional fundraisers or bureaucrats with deep pockets.
I like the fact that it was moms. Moms who bring their kids to school every day and pack their lunches. Moms who hang out and shoot the breeze with others in the same boat after school each day. Just some regular moms.
This year, the PAC wanted to thank the school community for supporting the project and also celebrate the acquisition of the structure with a grand opening celebration. A Saturday afternoon was picked, plans were made, and the forecast was studied.
It turned out to be a warm sunny October afternoon. So many school families came out to celebrate - people that don't usually attend school events. It was free, their were no expectations and it was a safe and accessible location. It was for everyone.
There was a button maker for the students to try out...
There were speeches and "thankyou's".
There were also a LOT of local politicians on the scene - jockeying for the microphone and shaking hands in the crowd. No, they didn't write any cheques to help in the purchase of the playground, but there is a municipal election just around the corner. Coincidence? I think not!
There were friends.
This is Ellie and her special friend, Nikki.
There were the two regular moms who made it happen.
There was a countdown, and the ribbon was cut!
There were free hot dogs....
...and smiling faces.
There was even our grade 4/5 teacher dressed up in full regalia painting faces.
There were lots of kids playing and squealing.
There was Sasha on the monkey bars.
As a side note, Sasha has a monkey bar addiction.
Really. She can't get enough of them. Her hands are blistered and raw and she just goes back for more. Coincidentally, she prefers the monkey bars on the old playground best.
There were also faces with big holes where their teeth used to be.
It was a good afternoon because it brought community together.
Community of all shapes and stripes.
Just because two regular moms had an idea.