Arts & Life
Canstar Community News
Before the next school year begins, the Maples community will have a brand new bike park in its own backyard.
Arthur E. Wright Community School, which is located on Jefferson Avenue, is developing a natural playground and bike track on its property. The project began last week and is expected to be completed by mid-August.
The goal of the project is to create an affordable and accessible space to be used by not only students but community members as well, according to principal Anna Mangano.
"In that (community) there isn’t much there that you don’t pay for," Mangano said. "And so I think that … pushed me harder in a way, to say this is something that’s really essential here."
"There’s just this sort of passion, I think, that’s developed in the community around riding bikes and using them not only recreationally, but as a tool to get somewhere."
Mangano attributes this growing passion, in part, to the BEST program, also known as Bicycle Education and Skills Training, which the K to 8 school has been running for a number of years. BEST teaches kids about road rules, cycling etiquette, and how to operate and maintain a bike.
The all-ages and all-abilities outdoor facility will include learning circles and outdoor classrooms, as well as elements such as a pump track, jumps, rocks and logs, a walking path, and two mini soccer fields, to improve fitness and cycling literacy. There will also be a bike library, from which students can borrow bicycles at no cost.
Thanks to the design and topography of the bike course, the space may also be used in the winter months for activities such as skiing, snowshoeing, and biking.
Jamie Hilland, a sustainable transportation specialist with Urban Systems who has been working on the project, said this facility reflects the evolving role of school yards in neighbourhoods.
"It’s changing the narrative on what school grounds are, the purpose that they’re for. So oftentimes, it’s just for the school to have exclusive use of (its facilities). But I think that’s shifting over time, we’re seeing more of them as being community facilities," Hilland said.
Mangano said the school has raised nearly all the necessary funds for the $186,000 price tag attached to the project. Funding was received from the Province of Manitoba, the City of Winnipeg, the Winnipeg Foundation, and the Seven Oaks School Division, which also donated 27 bikes to the library.
The school will foot part of the bill as well, using some of its savings from over the years.
Community Journalist - The Times
Sydney Hildebrandt is the community journalist for The Times. Email her at email@example.com
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