Written by Elizabeth Gardiner

 

Have you been inside an elementary school when the recess bell rings? The hallways erupt with noise as children quickly put on their coats and head for the playground doors. Those doors fly open with children anxiously running to their favorite play structure. Children are scaling the rock wall, hanging from monkey bars, racing down the slides, swinging with friends, and much more. Kids are being kids (outside!) – they are running, shouting, playing, high-fiving, laughing, socializing, making friends, and most importantly, having fun. It is a schoolyard filled with pure joy!

Now imagine the looks on all of these children’s faces when they get to the play structure and see that sections of their ONLY play structure are blocked off with bright yellow caution tape. Imagine how these children feel when that bright yellow caution tape could remain untouched for months or even an entire school year. The kindergarteners who were so excited to finally be able to play on the “big kid” playground, are wishing they could have their preschool playground back.

As a former 1st grade teacher of sixteen years, I see a great need for a new playground at the parish, St. Joseph the Worker in Lake Orion, one of the fastest growing parishes in the diocese. Kids need to be kids at recess time!  The joy would be unstoppable! A new playground would lead to better physical and mental health, along with cognitive, social, and emotional gains for the students of the school and our church.

An inviting playground will invite families to stay after mass and allow their children to play. An inviting playground can act as an incentive for your grandson to behave at mass. An inviting playground may act as a center point for catholic evangelization as young families gather to watch their kids play. An inviting playground can be more if we choose to look at it differently. We live in a society that has brought us inside in front of our electronics when we are called to be out and spreading God’s word. We believe a playground serves more than the school-age children that attend the school, it serves the community at large.

Pictured: St. Joe’s current structure is in disrepair and does not accommodate all grades or those with special needs.

My husband says all the time that God works in mysterious ways and the creation of the St. Joseph Playground fund is a testament to that. One Friday evening in May, my husband came home from a sporting clay fundraiser. He mentioned that he and a few parishioners of St. Joe’s parish started talking about how a sporting clay event would be a great fundraiser. When I heard the idea, I was on board and told him, “Let’s do it, let’s build a playground!” He was thrilled and one thing led to another.

In a few short months and countless hours of preparation, St. Joseph’s School in Lake Orion will be hosting “The St. Joseph Sporting Clay Classic” at Bald Mountain on Thursday, October 6, 2022.  The St. Joseph Sporting Clay Classic, in a special way, is dedicated “ to the joy of our children”.  All funds will be used to grow a restricted fund within the Catholic Foundation of Michigan for the purpose of St. Joseph’s Catholic School Playground.

Various donors have already heard the call and have generously donated to a designated fund at the Catholic Foundation of Michigan. The Foundation has been fundamental throughout the process by establishing a registration page for the event and an account that safeguards donations for its intended purpose.

“It is our hope and prayer that the children of God come together to see this project completed for the joy of His children. To this end, this is the core reason why we felt partnering with the Catholic Foundation was essential, as this fund will outlive each one of us. ” -Elizabeth and David Gardiner

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