I grew up on 65A Avenue, across the park from Hyland Elementary.
When the school was first built and for several years afterwards, the grounds were open on the evenings and weekends. However, several years ago, fences went up and the school grounds are now locked at 5 p.m. on school days and all weekend.
One might think, what’s the problem with that? The school is open when the children are there.
But the problem is the whole community used Hyland Elementary’s grounds:
• Older Indo-Canadian women walked the perimeter of the soccer field to get their exercise
• Parents took children to play on the playground. (Children I used to babysit called it the “good playground” because it has a lot more stuff than the one in the park).
• Countless games of pick-up soccer and baseball were played on the soccer field
• Neighbourhood kids played street hockey on the paved teacher parking lot when it was empty.
• There was almost always a game of basketball being played on the court.
• When it snowed, kids sledded on the two good hills – on behind the school and one leading down from the basketball court to the soccer field.
When I lived with my parents, I used to walk our dog through there daily and can testify to all these happenings.
I heard a rumour when the school was first locked up that it was to deter people who wrote graffiti on the school at night. And I can see the logic in that. But if that is the reason, should we really bow to the lowest common denominator? So many good, honest people used those school grounds for recreation.
And at a time when you can’t open a newspaper without reading about childhood diabetes, low bone density in children and the amount of time children spend in front of a screen, surely locking up a recreational area on the evenings and weekends is a bad idea.
I was home visiting my parents last weekend and my mom and I took our dog for a walk. It was a beautiful fall night – dry and warm.
As we walked past the locked-up school grounds, empty again because of the fences, I thought to myself what a terrible shame it was.
And today, I had to write to you and ask you, or whoever is in charge of these decisions, to reconsider.