School volunteers ready for more upgrades

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Recreation: Courts and fields the new focus of parent teacher association

Youngsters at Turner Valley School are still excited about their new playground equipment, but parents are ready to do more to improve the school’s sports fields.

The Turner Valley School Parent Teacher Association is looking to the community to contribute an estimated $110,000 to upgrade the school’s basketball court, two four-square courts, a baseball diamond and three soccer fields, as well as build a snow hill.

“It’s just another opportunity for families to come together and just to continue to grow that community spirit, providing more places where we can be outside together,” said Becky Mowatt, playground committee chair. “A multi-use space just enhances the spaces we have for the community.”

The association raised $160,000 through donations and grants in two years for playground upgrades to install two saucer swings, a rotating climber, net climber with a slide and a ramp and platform last fall that ties into the school’s existing equipment.

Mowatt’s children are no longer students at Turner Valley School, but she said her heart is still in the community and school.

“It’s a place that I continue to help out,” she said. “We have the momentum of just finishing the playground project, and being the main organizer it’s easy to keep going with it. It would take someone new to come in and quite a bit more time and effort. Right now it’s easy to let it keep rolling.”

The highest priority is replacing the existing basketball courts. Mowatt said the asphalt is cracked and falling apart and a portion has sloped.

That’s also the case for a paved area where children play games on two four-square courts.

Both are well used by the students and in desperate need of an upgrade, she said.

The plan calls for a junior high regulation court, which would be double the size of the existing one, said Mowatt.

“Even starting in Grade 6 kids are playing on full-sized courts,” she said. “This just gives them the opportunity to develop the skills. There are also older kids in the community who like to play and practice. The focus is on the greater community.”

Also on the association’s wish list are upgrades to the sports field.

The plan calls for a Little League-sized ball diamond with a regulation backdrop and red shale infield, said Mowatt.

“We are limited to size based on the field,” she said. “If we had room we could certainly have gone bigger.”

The group wants to upgrade the soccer fields, including nets for U6 and U12, Mowatt said.

The association is hoping to use soil that will be removed for paving and landscaping to create a small sledding hill between the ball diamond and existing sandbox.

To fund the project, Mowatt said the committee will approach local service groups, businesses and apply for grants.

She requested a $25,000 donation from the Town of Turner Valley during the Feb. 19 council meeting. A decision will be made during the budget process.

Mowatt said the Town donated $10,000 toward the playground equipment in 2016.

“We will solicit some local organizations to hopefully put this together and really change the recreation that we have for kids and families in the area,” she said. “We are hoping to have the funds in place this summer.”

If the association is unable to raise all of the money at once, Mowatt said the project will be done in phases.

“It doesn’t have to be everything at once,” she said.

The association is making its own contribution of $25,000 from its reserve funds to kick-start fundraising, Mowatt said.

“To start with $25,000 that’s going to be a huge jump,” she said. “Once we started to get a bit of funding it became much easier.”

Turner Valley School principal James Holladay said the addition of the playground equipment last fall made a big difference for students at recess and for physical education.

“The kids are so excited to have all the equipment,” he said. “They play on it every day. The kids love it.”

Holladay said he is glad the parent council is such a supporter of Turner Valley School.

“They want to make the playground and the field the best possible use for our community and our kids,” he said. “It’s awesome we’re going down this road to make a few more changes and a few more upgrades to make it a better place for kids to play.

“We’re very excited that parents are willing to step up and continue to support our local school and make our community a greater place.”

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