After eight years of work, Queenston School in River Heights is getting its new gym, which has been named in honour of a brave and lively woman.
The school hosted a ground-breaking event Dec. 4 to announce that the new 4,800 sq.-ft. gym will be called the Sheilah Sweatman Gymnasium.
"We have a brand new gym coming," school principal Wade Gregg said. "But really this has been in the works since 1987 or 1989."
Sweatman, a former resident of River Heights, died aon June 29, 2011 while working as a search and rescue volunteer in British Columbia. She was just 29. Sweatman drowned while retrieving the body of a woman from a vehicle submerged in the Goat River near Creston, B.C.
"Sheilah was a wonderful person and we miss her every second of every day," said her father, Wynn Sweatman, who attended the sod-turning ceremony with wife Teddi.
Wynn said he thought his daughter would have been amused to be honoured by a school.
"She was a good student but she was a very independent and strong-willed and a wonderful athlete," he said. "Her dedication to other people and her energy in the field and outside is the reason she was named here today."
The current Queenston School gym is just 2,000 sq.-ft. with tile flooring, a low ceiling, and a stage at one end. Gregg said it is now referred to as the multi-purpose room.
"It’s no longer the gym," Gregg said. "I called it the gym until June 14, 2012 when it was announced we were getting a new one."
The building of the new gym took funding from the Winnipeg School Division, the City of Winnipeg, the Province of Manitoba and a partnership with the Central Corydon Community Centre. Coun. John Orlikow (River Heights-Fort Garry), said the new gym will mean a lot to the community.
"At the basic level it provides a local recreational space that is much needed," said
Orlikow. "From the city-side we know, through the needs assessment, that recreational space is still quite needed locally. So (part of) our overall plan for changes to the community centre would be adding a new gym."
The City Centre Community Committee provided a $50,000 community incentive grant to the new gym in 2012.
Colleen McFadden, chair of the Queenston School Gym Committee, has had two of her children go through the school and one about the graduate in the spring. She said seeing the tiny space frustrated her.
"It’s sending your kids to gym class and telling them not to give your all," McFadden said. "It’s like sending them to math class and saying ‘don’t think too much.’
"There was nothing the teachers could do, and they did their best, but with all those things combined in the end, it boils down to every kid deserves a gym."
Gregg said the grand opening of the Sheilah Sweatman Gymnasium is set for January 2015.