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Odgen Community School playground rejuvenated

Artificial turf soccer fields installed, to go along with repaved basketball and hopscotch courts and revamped play equipment.

THUNDER BAY – A rundown, hardscrabble patch of scrape-causing ground that once substituted for a proper play area behind Ogden Community School has been reborn.

In its place, a playground oasis with artificial turf soccer fields, a re-paved basketball court, areas for hopscotch and jumping rope and a gazebo to provide shade from the sun and a quiet place to sit and talk or do schoolwork.

It’s also brought a renewed sense of excitement for students at the school, situated just off Simpson Street in a neighbourhood looking to rejuvenate itself from the economic doldrums that have plagued it for decades.

Grade 5 student Sierra Vincent said no one really wanted to use the playground in its former form, worried about falling and hurting themselves.

“When there was just dirt and people fell they’d just get hurt,” the nine-year-old said on Wednesday, dodging thunderstorms to get in some quality playtime with her classmates.

“They’d get scrapes on their knees. I like the (new) grass because if you fall you don’t get hurt.”

Aiden Fisher is a Grade 8 student at the school, said it’s hard to even put into words the transformation he’s seen from last spring until now.

“It looks so different. It looks like an entirely new school,” the 13-year-old said. “There was sand everywhere, just really messy. There was gravel and you couldn’t even really tell the field from the pavement.

“Now you can actually tell the difference.”

It’s great for the school and he’s already noticing better school spirit amongst his friends.

“I always used to only see kids playing tag, and stuff. There’d be kids sitting down and talking. But now that we have this turf, kids want to play now because it looks nicer than before. And it’s a lot more colourful than just grey (ground) that looks dead,” Aiden said.

“Kids come after school, which never ever happened before that.”

School principal Andrea Pugliese said the money to complete the project, which has been in the works for several years, came from Lakehead Public Schools and the Ministry of Education.

“They’ve never had a soccer field or grass here, because it just wasn’t able to grow,” she said. “The most exciting part for us was getting the turf, because now our kids can actually run and play soccer and have grass.

“They also did upgrades to our basketball courts and play equipment and new pavement and it’s just a nice fresh, new look for students to come out and enjoy the playground.”

It’s a great opportunity for the community too, she added.

“It’s now a place they can come after school with their families and play,” Pugliese said.


Leith Dunick

About the Author: Leith Dunick

A proud Nova Scotian who has called Thunder Bay home since 2002, Leith is Dougall Media's director of news, but still likes to tell your stories too. Wants his Expos back and to see Neil Young at least one more time. Twitter: @LeithDunick
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