Monday, June 28, 2010

A Transformation

Over the weekend, I participated in a very powerful community celebration.  Approximately 250 people of all ages pitched in to transform a school's playground in one day.  This transformation will have a tremendously positive impact on the students who attend Brooklands School in Winnipeg, and the reach goes so far beyond the school itself - their re-designed school grounds will prove to be a focal point in the broader community for years to come.

The process of re-designing the Brooklands School playground has been months in the making.  The school principal, Rex Ferguson-Baird, worked tirelessly to secure grants, line up resources & assemble a dedicated team of volunteers to turn his concept into a reality.  Rex secured a grant through Let Them Be Kids, an organization that is dedicated to building one hundred new play structures a year in communities across Canada.  The $75,000 that Rex raised toward this project was matched by Let Them Be Kids, which meant that the school had the opportunity to spend $150,000 on this project.

Throughout the day, volunteers worked tirelessly to bring about a complete transformation of the school yard, including:
  • two new play structures
  • a butterfly garden
  • removal of brush
  • repair of existing baseball diamond
  • beautification of gardens and planters
The school grounds were abuzz with activity, with teams of people turning Rex's vision into a reality. From the students and staff to the parents, grandparents and alumni, everyone played a role in bringing about this radical transformation.  Everyone had a part to play and they all did it with gusto.  The following images will provide some insight into what transpired throughout the day:

Not only did Let Them Be Kids support this project financially, they also promoted the redevelopment  of the Brooklands school grounds on their website.  Harnessing the power of technology, they featured live streaming video of the day's festivities on their website.  We had dozens of viewers from around the globe watching the action on uStream as it was unfolding in real time.  Not only could people participate at a distance, but we've also archived a great deal of content that was recorded throughout the day.  We conducted interviews with students, teachers, parents, administration, former principals and city councilors.  Highlights of the day can be accessed by scrolling down the LTBK uStream page.

In addition to snapping photos and assisting with the live video feed, I thought it would be interesting to create a time lapse video of a play structure being assembled throughout the day.  I set up a camera on the roof of the school and captured a photo every 30 seconds.  As you can see in the video clip below, there was a lot happening throughout the day - and it was only through the dedication and commitment of our tireless volunteers that we were able to pull it of.

The transformation that took place at Brooklands School on Monday is significant for a lot of reasons.
  • It's a positive change that benefits everyone and will continue to do so for years to come
  • It started with a vision and it could only be pulled off through hard work and dedication
  • It's an attempt to rethink how we make the most use out of our spaces within schools
  • Everybody got on board to turn this dream into a reality...
One of the things I've been mulling over since driving away from the school late Saturday afternoon is that this transformation is symbolic of a larger transformation that still needs to take place within our schooling system.  We know that there are many things that can be done to ensure that our schools are effective in creating learning environments that motivate and engage our students emotionally and intellectually.  We know that we must all work together to help bring about this change.  And we also know that everyone must be on board to turn this dream into a reality.

We pulled together over 200 people to transform a school's playground in one day.  That's radical.

How many people will we have to pull together to transform our schools so that they more suitably meet the needs of today's students?  And how long is this process going to take?

That's an even bigger challenge...


Anonymous said...

It was awesome to be a part of this project. The community spirit was electric. Beautiful presentation of the day, Andy!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Andy for capturing this day! It was amazing to be part of this incredible day - everyone worked so hard and had many great laughs! It is a day that will never be forgotten... my students had a lot of fun this afternoon playing on their new play structure! Thanks to everyone who helped to make a difference in our community!

Prairie Fire said...

Thank you for capturing the spirit of the day in your words and pictures Andy. You are right that this was an amazing external transformation of the Brooklands School grounds. At the end of the day we had 246 registered volunteers participate. The synergy from that group was tangible as they sculpted the face of the park. At the core of this project though is the idea that we created an opportunity for the community to experience the power of working together. Our hope is that it is a lesson that takes hold and a resident's association is launched, assisting the community in creating future positive changes. After this day they can now see, in a very real way, that they have the power to make great things happen!