They say it takes a village to raise a child.
Supporting our schoolchildren in various ways is all part of our work if we want to build a truly healthy city.
Since elected to city council in 1998, one way I have tried to support and encourage our youth is by providing various awards and scholarships for graduates of Grade 6 and Grade 12 in public schools within the Fort Rouge — East Fort Garry Ward. Each year, for the elementary school grads, I provide gift certificates to purchase books for individual students who have excelled in a love of reading, or to be donated to the school library in honour of the graduating class.
For the high school graduations, each year, students receive the Fort Rouge — East Fort Garry Councillor Award with a modest contribution toward their future education. Our high schools in the ward are fortunate to receive a number of community-based scholarships. These scholarships celebrate and reflect the history of each school and help support our graduates each year in their future endeavours.
The grad ceremonies, whether Grade 6 or 12, are big family affairs and are full of special personal and community moments. Between the touching words, pictures, choir performances and speeches, a box of tissue is definitely a must at these events.
Another aspect of supporting our young people is providing a built environment that enables accessible, educational and meaningful play experiences.
To improve school playground facilities often takes a period of years to make a reality and requires a lot of volunteer effort, fundraising and community commitment. Parent Council volunteers give much in time and perseverance to plan and raise funds.
Many schools are starting to provide a broader play experience than exclusively putting in climbing structures and playground equipment, although this play equipment is important as well. We have many projects in place or underway to "green up" the school grounds to help connect children with nature. This provides not only many learning opportunities, such as gardening, but also helps to foster the connection to the earth that is so important to our well-being on this planet.
I am proud as a city councillor that we have been able to support playground and greening projects at schools such as École LaVérendrye, École Crane, Earl Grey School, Lord Roberts, Riverview and École Viscount Alexander.