John Young seeks community support
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Oct 25, 2012  |  Vote 0    0

John Young seeks community support

Ottawa East News

John Young Elementary students have been without a play structure since the board condemned and removed the old one just before the school year began in September.

The school council and staff are hoping the community can come together to help them secure the funding for a new playground though an Aviva Community Fund grant.

“Kids, when they don’t have anything to do, they get bored,” said principal Pete Veurtjes. “They do need to have something out there.”

The cost to bring the grounds up to code – replacing asphalt and fixing the drainage system – and purchase and install a new structure will run upwards of $100,000, said school council chair Michelle Wright.

“Nothing’s up to code anymore,” she said, adding it would cost between $50,000 and $60,000 to fix the yard before a structure is installed. “Parents don’t understand how expensive this is.”


The school council has been fundraising for the past four years setting aside just over $30,000 for a new structure. But it’s not enough, said Wright, who’s been involved with the school for 14 years.

John Young is hoping to receive most of the money it needs through Aviva, which will help cover the majority of the cost for replacing the play structure and bringing the grounds up to code.

The school is 35 years old, with the old play structure installed five years after John Young was built.

“It was rotting,” she said. “Slowly, pieces were taken away.”

All that’s left now is an empty sand pit and one long metal rail. The school has a bin of toys, like sand pails and shovels that students can take out during recess. But the plastic playthings don’t replace the loss of a structure.

“It’s not even close to sufficient,” said Veurtjes, who helped the Crystal Bay Centre for Special Education in Nepean win an Aviva grant in 2010.

He added a play structure is “a form of socialization,” where students learn how to interact with each other. It also helps combat obesity by providing students with exercise.


Currently, there is a metal play climber in the yard but it’s only available to the students in grades 4, 5 and 6. John Young boasts a total of 440 students this year, and all junior kindergarten to Grade 6 students in Glen Cairn are slated to attend the school starting in 2013, thanks to the reconfiguration of boundaries.

“We’re getting all of Glen Cairn,” said Wright, adding she’s hoping the whole community will vote for John Young to receive the grant.

People need to register their email address on the Aviva website and then can vote daily.

“Literally, it’s 20 seconds,” said Veurtjes. “It is so simple and the rewards are huge.”

Students will have their hands in selecting the equipment they want to see in the yard. They’ll have to research why certain components should be included.

“It ties into our school improvement plan,” said Veurtjes. “If they’re going to be playing with it they need to choose it.”

The A.Y. Jackson Secondary School audio visual team also got into the spirit, helping create a video to showcase the elementary school’s need.

Voting opened on Monday, Oct. 22, and closes on Nov. 5. To vote for John Young, visit

“We’re hoping the community will get behind us and vote daily,” said Veurtjes.

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