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New St. Mary’s Elementary playground opens in Aylesford

Jenna Salsman and MacKenzie Harris take a quick timeout from playing to pose for a photo on the new play structure at St. Mary’s Elementary.
Jenna Salsman and MacKenzie Harris take a quick timeout from playing to pose for a photo on the new play structure at St. Mary’s Elementary. - Contributed

AYLESFORD, N.S. - There’s a picture of kids sprinting toward the new playground at St. Mary’s Elementary School that’s worth 1,000 words.

It speaks to why community volunteers and school staff rallied together to make the playground a reality for St. Mary’s students and area residents alike.

“The quote, from the day that we opened it, that I heard lots was, ‘Mr. Schurman, this is the best day ever,’” said St. Mary’s Elementary School principal Isaac Schurman Jan. 16, about a week after the playground opened.

“The kids love it.”

Schurman says it took “a handful of years” to bring the project, ultimately costing about $120,000 along with in-kind donations, from concept to completion.

“We’ve had all kinds of really great support.”

The project received a municipal grant from the County of Kings, a donation from Mud Creek Rotary and support from Kings West MLA Leo Glavine, among contributions from various local organizations and businesses that saw the value in installing a new play system at the Aylesford-based school.

Hayden Clarke, Arie Amirault, Tessa Baskwill and Mason Veinot let their imaginations run wild with the new play system at St. Mary’s Elementary School in Aylesford.
Hayden Clarke, Arie Amirault, Tessa Baskwill and Mason Veinot let their imaginations run wild with the new play system at St. Mary’s Elementary School in Aylesford.

“Candice Silver spearheaded the playground committee and she’s done a lot of work to make it successful,” he said, later noting that Kevin Hodges played an instrumental role in preparing the site for the playground install.

“We want to thank all of the volunteers and the community groups that have helped us make it a success. I think that without our community behind us, without our parents involved as they were, it wouldn’t have been as successful.”

The playground is open to the public outside of school hours, and Schurman hopes to see it become a recreation destination within the rural setting.

“It is the only play park in Aylesford, so it is definitely a community spot for families to use,” he said.

The structure is designed in a way that promotes what Schurman refers to as “physical literacy.”

“It’s really the idea of getting children to go out and be physically active and practice movement. A lot of those pieces of equipment that we have require specific skills.”

The play park features an accessible swing with a full back, a climbing system with monkey bars, balance beam, a three-leveled pirate ship with built-games – and the list goes on.

“This is a community playground. It was sold as a community playground, so we’re actively asking… people to use it on the weekends,” said Schurman.

He hopes to see the playground become a place where grandparents can play with their visiting grandchildren and passersby coming from Highway 101 on their way to the nearby Oaklawn Farm Zoo during the summer break can stop to check it out.

“Playgrounds always make great memories,” he said.

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