Vote will make gym dandy
As Jenifer Jayme watches construction crews tip one of the heavy concrete slabs that will comprise the walls of St. Thomas More’s new $6.5 million gymnasium on Wednesday, she can see the facility taking shape.
But there’s more to a gym than just the walls, roof and floors.
Once the structure is done, it will have to be filled with bleachers and backboards, wrestling mats and cardio machines, volleyball stanchions and a scoreboard to bring it to life. Those ancillary items, plus the temporary facility at the other end of the school currently being used as a gym, will add another $1 million to the final tab, all of which is being paid for by donations and pledges from alumni and supporters in the community. Asking them to dip into their wallets once again isn’t easy.
“It’s a little overwhelming when you look at all the costs,” says Jayme, the school’s director of development and community relations.
A $150,000 grant from the Aviva Community Fund would go a long way to equipping the gym of the school’s dreams.
The Aviva Community Fund is an annual competition held by Aviva Insurance to distribute $1 million to worthy projects in Canada that help create positive change.
From an initial pool of 650 entrants, three qualifying rounds and a semi-final round of online voting will determine 30 finalists to which judges can award grants ranging from $5,000 to $150,000 until the prize pool is exhausted.
Previous winners include accessible playgrounds, a therapeutic garden for seniors and a bear rescue facility.
Jayme says a well-equipped gym at STM will become an amenity that benefits the whole community by helping student athletes fulfill their potential and creating opportunities for healthy, constructive extracurricular activities. Securing an Aviva grant would not only help make that happen, it would also send a positive message to potential contributors as well as those who’ve already helped out.
“It proves it’s possible,” says Jayme. “A lot of people are sacrificing to make this happen, and this honours that sacrifice.”
So far the 27,000 square foot gym is on budget and on schedule thanks to economical construction techniques like the tipped wall slabs and recycling the concrete base of the old gym as fill. When savings are realized in one area, they’re invested back into the project, like a top-of-the-line sprung hardwood floor.
Jayme says it’s hoped the scoreboard will be similarly upgraded to something beyond a basic clock.
Along the way, the school’s athletic coaches have been consulted to ensure the facility meets their needs. For instance, the original plan to put locker rooms on two levels was revised when the coaches said it would be easier to supervise the area if they were all on one level.
To help get the votes that will put them amongst the 90 semi-finalists, emails are being sent to all alumni and their families. There will also be a computer set up for casting votes at the school’s Homecoming celebration on Oct. 12.
“Every vote counts, every message sent on Facebook counts,” says Jayme.
To vote for STM’s gym project, go to www.avivacommunityfund.org/ideas/acf14201. First round voting closes Oct. 15.