Gateway Gazette

A Gift of Play ~ From Western Financial Group

By Pam Jones, Editor.

In a way that we perhaps had not thought about, the children of High River were still suffering from the effects of the 2013 flood.

Normalcy had been removed from their lives in one fast sweep. Over a year later they were still feeling the effects of that disruption to their lives.

‘Normal’ had now become rebuilding their homes with parents worried sick about how long it would all take.

In an amazing gift to these children, the employees of Western Financial donated $100,000 through their Western Communities Foundation to bring a ray of sunshine to their lives.

The $100,000 donation was made by Western Financial Group and Desjardins, Western’s parent company, and was donated through the Western Communities Foundation – Western’s charitable arm, to remediate three school playgrounds in High River as part of Western Financial Group’s 2013 flood relief initiatives.

This donation was made in December 2013 and now two of the three school playgrounds are open for students to use. Ecole Joe Clark and Spitzee Elementary School opened yesterday and Holy Spirit Academy will be ready in February.

Spitzee Elementary School Principal, Brooke MacNeill, was explaining how much work it had taken to complete this job. “It was amazing to see how much of the pea gravel was replaced. At one point we just had a huge hole,” she said. “The children really need this equipment to just be free to play and express themselves.”

The Grade 4/5 students at Spitzee Elementary School enjoyed the ceremonial ribbon cutting and a chance to explore the new equipment. Some of them shared their thoughts with me:

“I like it” – Josh Hopwood, Grade 5.

“I like it because we can play around and have some fun. The equipment is so nice” – Schuyler Glasman, Grade 5.

“It’s good because without it we didn’t have anything to do and because we get to go out and just be ourselves” – Lily Coote, Grade 5.

“The Western Communities Foundation gives back to the communities where they live and work through the areas of public health, public housing, education and recreation. This project fits into that criteria and we are very happy to be able to do this,” said John Jenner, Vice-President of Marketing, Communications and Customer Experience for Western Financial Group and the Executive Director of the Western Communities Foundation.

Judging by the smiles, laughing and exuberant play at Spitzee Elementary yesterday I would be the first to say the kids appreciate this gift and a huge thank you to Western.

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