Old Rusty has given its last sliver.
The bygone play structure at St. Joseph the Worker School has given way to several shiny new pieces of equipment. The new structure was open for use in October of last year, but was celebrated with a ribbon cutting at the school on last week, on Oct. 4.
Playground committee chair Louise Hedman said the project began three years ago after years of fretting about the previous structure, which was at the school for over 20 years.
Hedman explained the old structure was made with pressure-treated wood, and because it was on private property, it was not taken down when several others were removed.
"The kids were constantly getting injured on it. They had slivers every day," Hedman said. "It was also smaller, so there were a limited amount of kids who could play on it at any given time."
Principal Judi Pacheco agreed the old structure was in need of replacement, and the new one is a major upgrade in terms of safety and aesthetics.
"Our old one was very matte, very gray," she said, adding the structure is well-used by the community. "This one is brightly coloured, it holds their attention."
Pacheco credited the parents for stepping up, adding its especially important to have an involved group of parents in an independent school.
The first small phase of the new equipment on the west side of the playground was installed the summer of 2012, while the larger structure was put in last fall.
The playground committee held several fundraisers, including a quiz night, bingos, and chocolate sales. As well, it received grants from the Winnipeg Foundation, the provincial Community Places Grant, the civic Community Incentive Grant, and the Manitoba Community Services Council Grant to help fund the $85,000 project.
In addition to classic play structure elements like monkey bars and a slide, the park also has a xylophone and a math board to keep kids learning while they play.
Hedman’s daughter, Grace, is in Grade 4 at the school, and she hopes to have revamped the entire schoolyard by the time Grace graduates Grade 6.
"We’re trying to continue on improving the rest of the yard here. Through fundraising and grants, we’re working on replacing the sidewalks here," Hedman said, adding she also hopes to replace the limestone play area in the school’s backyard with rubber paving.