Let Them Be Kids

Let Them Be Kids is an all volunteer, non-profit organization created to build community capacity on the grassroots level, while building playgrounds, skate parks and fitness parks across Canada. These projects leave a legacy of community members who are inspired and better equipped to lay a strong foundation for a brighter tomorrow.

St. John Catholic Elementary School in Perth is a proud recipient of a 2010 Let Them Be Kids "Believe" Award! Every dollar raised by our community will be matched by Let Them Be Kids
to build a much needed playground at St. John's!

Monday, May 31, 2010

Check out St. John's New Playground in Perth!

St. John Catholic Elementary School in Perth, Ontario is thrilled to tell you that our playground project is now complete! We held our fabulous Build Day last Saturday, May 29, 2010, and our students are ecstatic!

On Build Day, we had about 200 dedicated volunteers turn up to make drastic changes to our tired, old school yard! By the day's end, our students had:
-three brand new play structures: one for the kindergarten classes, primary division and junior division!
-a brand new outdoor classroom with prayer corner, outdoor stage for dramatic productions and theatrical student performances during recess(!), and a storyteller's chair
-outdoor community gardens and landscaping, including many new trees planted to provide shade, and a wonderful outdoor reading area at the front of our school
-colourful, beautifully painted outdoor murals of flowers and children in motion, mounted in our outdoor classroom and outdoor reading spaces
-newly built and installed soccer nets both in the primary and junior yards 
-brand new 10'x12' sandbox in the kindergarten yard
-improved sports fields and long jump pit, and freshly painted bike racks and monkey bars
-plus, a brand new, renovated kitchen compliments of Team Depot (Home Depot, Carleton Place)

Thank you to all volunteers who came out that day, including Jesse John of Let Them Be Kids, the Team Depot members, and Dan from Belair Recreation, who supervised the building of our three play structures. You all did a magnificent job!

The photos below show the gorgeous, sunny day God blessed us with on Build Day! Here are some of the amazing results achieved when we all got together to work to improve our students' school experiences: 

St. John's new outdoor classroom (prayer corner) and outdoor stage being built on Build Day!
Outdoor reading area with new murals to add some colour, plus the new Primary Division play structure!
Two more play structures! The first is St. John's new Junior play structure and the next photo shows the Kindergarten play structure with our new (very popular!) airplane spring rider!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Thank You Crains' Construction, Dowdall Mechanical and Ricky White!

St. John's Playground Project would not have been possible without the extraordinary help of a few highly-skilled volunteers and local companies.

It was a challenge to pull this project together, and the Playground Committee members and school students will be eternally grateful to the volunteers as well as companies like Crains' Construction, Dowdall Mechanical and local contractor, Ricky White.

In the days leading up to Build Day, there is much prep work to be done, including tasks such as measuring out, excavating and levelling the playground site, and welding the three play structures. Long days were put in during the weekend prior to Build Day as well as the Thursday and Friday before the big build! Luckily, we were able to count on local restaurants, Jersey Joe's Pizzeria and Chipmunk Chippery, to keep our hard-working volunteers well fed!

A big thank you to Jason and Joey Dowdall for doing the welding, to Brent Easton/E&S Logging for donating the boom truck, and to Ricky White who donated the tractor, to get this prep work done! 

A big thank you as well to Crains' Construction who supplied thousands of dollars of materials,  such as filter cloth, 50 tonnes of clear stone, river rock and crushed stone, as well as two mini excavators and a skidsteer.  In addition to this, skilled Crain's employees volunteered their time both on Build Day and for the prep work, so a big shout out to Mike Crain, Terry Harper and Dave MacDonald, who not only work for Crain's but have children who attend St. John's!

Crains' Construction is a locally owned and operated company, which was established in 1976 in Maberly, Ontario.  It is owned by Archie Crain, Wib Crain, Norman Crain, Tom Crain and their families.  Two of Archie's grandchildren attend the school - Matthew and Abby Crain, and younger sibling, Anna, will also eventually be an SJ scholar! 

Prepping the St. John's yard to get ready for Build Day! 
Hard-working volunteer and dad, Mike Crain, takes a break with his children, Matthew, Abby and Anna, as well as Dougie Harper (far left), whose Dad, Terry Harper, also dedicated his weekend to get the St. John's school yard ready for the new playground! 
The crew is standing where the outdoor classroom is about to be built!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Pray for a Sunny Build Day!

So far, the weather report looks good for this Saturday's Build Day at St. John's!  It is supposed to be sunny with a high of 25 degrees C - yippee!

Only three more days before our students will have a brand new school yard, thanks to about 200 volunteers, who have already registered to help transform the playground on Saturday. 

It should be an amazing day, and here is some IMPORTANT INFO for all our volunteers to help get ready for Build Day!

-Please bring the waiver form (which will be emailed to you on Thursday) with you to
Build Day.
-When you first arrive on Saturday morning, please register at the Registration Table at the front of the school before entering the school yard.
-Lunch, coffee and snacks will be provided to all volunteers!
-Please bring your own water bottle with you that day. It might be a good idea to bring sunscreen, too!
-Parking is available on side streets around the school, and you may also park in the church parking lot.

Thanks again to all our volunteers, and we look forward to seeing you this Saturday!

Generous Perth Community Donations Make St. John's Playground a Reality!

With just days remaining until Perth area volunteers transform the St. John Catholic Elementary School yard into a playground extraordinaire for our students and children within the community, we will always be grateful for the many generous individuals, service groups and local businesses who made monetary donations to make the students' dream a reality!

Our initial fundraising goal set in January, 2010, was to raise $51,000. As of today, almost $68,000 has been contributed, which has allowed the school to complete its total vision for the school yard, including outdoor classroom, gardens, mural paintings completed by staff and students, and sports field improvements. 

The community support St. John's has received throughout this project has been overwhelming! Thank you to each and every one of you who donated, whether you contributed your time, energy, ideas, talents or funds - the St. John's community thanks you! 

Below are just a few of the many generous companies and service clubs who helped make St. John's new playground a reality!  

All photos courtesy of Chris Must, The EMC

First photo:
Perth Civitan Executive Members Gwen Ramsey, Trish McConnell, Andre Frommer and Richard Peskett hand a generous donation to St. John's principal, Mrs. Terri Brady, while surrounded by SJ students who will benefit from the Civitan's contribution when the playground is built! The SJ students include: Emily Donovan, Tasha McGregor, Sierra Peskett, Nolan McKinnon, and Kira Peskett. 
Second photo:
Kevin Costello of Costello and Company makes a generous donation to the playground fund, which was accepted by teacher & playground committee member, Peter Imeson, & excited SJ student Gracie Costello
Third photo: 
St. John Catholic Women's League of Perth - CWL members Claudette Truelove and Susan Roach support St. John's students Brooklyn Cooper, Natasha Cooper, Jocelyn Cooper, Molly O'Neil, and Katelyn Copp

Top photo:
Mr. Chris Stranberg (CA), Ms. Lisa Dowdall and Mr. John Quigley (CA) of the accounting firm of Kelly Huibers McNeely present kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Melanie O'Neil, with a donation to the playground fund, in front of grateful students Mason Miller and Madison Miller.
Next photo:
The Perth Firefighters' Association become an Amazing Arch Donor for the playground project, as Firefighter Mike Gemmill presents the donation to students Ryley Gemmill, Michael Hogan, Jessica Hogan, and Mikayla Gemmill.

Photo above:
When the SJ Playground Commitee approached Albany International of Perth, Albany immediately responded with a generous donation! Russ Williams and Brian Majaury from Albany make SJ students Sydney Murphy, Haley White and Mark McKay and SJ teacher Sarah Bowes-Christie very happy, when they learn that Albany's contribution brings us closer to building a new playground!

Monday, May 24, 2010

SJ Playground Prep Work Has Started!

Thanks to some hard-working, dedicated St. John's community volunteers, our school yard prep work was completed this past long weekend to get ready for Build Day

St. John's School would like to thank the devoted, caring guys and women who gave freely of their time, talents and tools, especially under the hot  sun on Saturday and Sunday! A big 'thank you' to Mike Crain, Terry Harper, Rick White, Phill Brackenbury, Jason Dowdall, Dustin Murphy, Paul Thomas, Clint Bron,  Jeff Bron, Dave MacDonald plus Louise Bron and Erin Crain.

The challenging part now for our teachers is try to keep our excited children from playing in the holes dug in the ground, where the play structures will be placed this coming weekend!

Here are some great photos of the prep work:

A boom truck, donated by Crain's Construction, placed large boulders in front of the school, which will be used to create an outdoor area for reading and teaching for St. John's students.

Trimming the trees above the area where the primary students' play structure will be placed!

Digging the hollow where the Primary Play Structure will be located!
You can see Father Al's house in the background!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Chipmunk Chippery Feeds Happy St. John's Families and Donates to our New Playground!

Cheryl Fournier of Perth's Chipmunk Chippery really knows how to make St. John's families happy! 

Last evening, on May 20, Cheryl dedicated all proceeds from the sale of food from her local chippery to the St. John's Playground Project! Many, many St. John's families know a great deal when they see one, especially when it includes the option of hot fries and family meal deals at the Chipmunk Chippery on Foster Street. There was a huge turn-out that evening to support the Chippery and the playground.

In just three hours, a total of $1100 was raised and donated by Cheryl for the new playground! Your generosity amazes us, Cheryl, and thank you for not only filling the bellies of our students last evening, but their dreams of a great, new school yard as well! 

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Countdown is On! Build Day is in just 9 days!

Hear ye, hear ye, students of St. John's and all Perth community children!  

Very, very soon, recess will never be the same!

Build Day at St. John's Catholic Elementary School is just 9 days away! Here is an agenda for the day, so get ready to have fun all you volunteers!
Saturday, May 29, 2010  8am – 3pm

8am: Registration opens
8am: Play structure building, gardening & other activities begin
8am: Start laying cloth, arrange/build borders, bring in drainage stone & cedar weave
9am: Start assembling structures
9am: National Let Them Be Kids Webcast begins
www.ltbk.ca (tell your friends & relatives who can’t be with us so they can watch the excitement too!)
9am: Refreshments and snacks available
10:30am: Children's activities begin (for school-age children)
11:30-1pm: Knights of Columbus BBQ Lunch
12pm:  Second shift starts.
Around 1:45pm: Playground completed
1:45 – 2:10pm: Inspections of structures done
2:15pm - entire group photo on structures taken
2:20pm – everyone gathers on lawn
2:30 – 3pm: Opening Ceremony
  • Legion Colour Party enters
  • Playground opens!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Lanark Leeds Home Builders Association Honours Graham Gent

Being involved in the St. John's playground project is inspiring in so many ways. Not only do we gain the opportunity of working together as a school community and witnessing many acts of generosity within our larger community, but there are many stories we experience as we come closer to building the children's playground on May 29th. 

One of these inspirational occasions occurred recently when our local Lanark Leeds Home Builders Association donated to the playground project in honour of the late Mr. Graham Gent. Mr. Gent owned Gent and Company Construction Services in Perth, and was an active member of the home builders' association. He was known for being a really wonderful guy, who gave back to his community in the same spirit that our playground project promotes. Mr. Gent even organized an initiative called 'Giving Back to the Community', which aims to complete building projects for people in need.

Mr. Gent passed away suddenly on January 1, 2009. The playground donation made by his friends and colleagues on the Lanark Leeds Home Builders Association sets a wonderful example for our St. John's students, by demonstrating to them the importance of honouring the contribution of Mr. Gent as a community leader with a generous spirit.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Kids' Activities to Take Place at St. John's Build Day!

The St. John's Playground Commitee is organizing kids' activities on Build Day - Saturday, May 29. We encourage all parents to bring their children along while they volunteer to help transform the St. John's school yard

Please note that all children participating in Build Day kids' activities must be of school age! All children must be four years of age or older, and the kids' activities begin at 10:30am on Build Day

The children can celebrate the construction of the three new play structures and our transformed school yard at the opening ceremony at the end of Build Day, which will take place around 2:30pm or 3pm that day.

St. John’s Playground to Be Dedicated to Local Fallen Heroes and Veteran

The St. John Playground Committee has chosen two local fallen Canadian Forces heroes and one local Veteran to be part of the dedication of their new playground. 

The fundraising efforts for the new playground at the school taking place under the auspices of the Let Them Be Kids foundation dictates that any new playgrounds built are dedicated to a Canadian Forces fallen soldier or veteran from the area. After much reading and research by a Grade 6 class at the school, St. John’s has chosen Flying Officer William Kyle, Corporal James Michael McGlade, and veteran Corporal Francis DiCola to immortalize in the dedication of their new play structures.

Flying Officer William Kyle, born and raised in Perth, flew Dakota aircraft as a member of the RCAF 453 Transport Squadron based out of Tulihal, India. His squadron was responsible for moving freight and soldiers to and from various bases throughout the South Pacific. On June 21, 1945, a mission Kyle was on failed to return. The story of the missing aircraft came to prominence more than 50 years later, when the wreckage of the missing plane was discovered in the jungles of northwestern Myanmar (Burma), and Veterans Affairs Canada sought to uncover the wreckage and bring it home. Flying Officer Kyle’s watch, found at the scene, allowed Veterans Affairs to identify the crew and the plane.

Corporal James Michael McGlade, born in Perth and a graduate of St. John Separate School and PDCI High School, served the Canadian Forces as a member of the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry. Corporal McGlade signed up for the military in 1940 and was deployed overseas in 1942. Stationed in Antwerp, Belgium, Corporal McGlade’s regiment was responsible for the liberation, capture and preservation of the vital harbour and dock facilities at Antwerp.  He was killed there in 1944 and is buried in Schoonselhof Cemetery in Belgium.

Corporal Francis E. DiCola, also a graduate of St. John Separate School and PDCI, enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force as a 17 year old in 1943. As a member of the RCAF Squadron 422 he was stationed at Pembroke Dock in Wales and worked as a radio operator. His job was to dispatch aircraft to various bases throughout Great Britain and the continent. While he was offered the opportunity to act as a guard during the Nuremberg Trials after the war, Corporal DiCola was anxious to return to Canada. He took advantage of the RCAF education packages offered to returning soldiers and took an economics degree at University of Toronto before returning to Perth to run the family business, DiCola Petroleum. Here he raised 7 children with his wife, Rose, and as a businessman and father, has contributed to countless endeavors in our community. 

St. John’s is proud to dedicate their new play structures and schoolyard to these local Forces heroes. While the children are playing on the structures building their bodies and friendships, may they also be aware of these brave men who gave of themselves so that we could be free.

Good Luck Chimo School in Smiths Falls!

Tomorrow, our friends in nearby Smiths Falls at Chimo Public School will be celebrating their own  Build Day, thanks to Let Them Be Kids and the amazing support that the Smiths Falls area has shown to the students at Chimo

We wish them a very successful Build Day and hope that the sun shines and that all volunteers have a fantastic day, making dreams come true and building a new playground for the excited Chimo scholars! All the best to Chimo from your friends at St. John's!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

St. John’s School Pays it Forward for the Guatemala Stove Project

As part of the Let Them Be Kids protocol, all volunteers on St. John School's Build Day on Saturday, May 29, must have proper identification indicating that they have signed a liability waiver and are volunteering on site to help transform our playground. 

St. John's  Playground Committee has decided to use this opportunity to 'pay it forward' and buy hand-braided bracelets from a well-known Perth charitable foundation, the Guatamela Stove Project. The bracelets will be used on Build Day to help identify all our registered volunteers. We are very pleased to announce that by purchasing these bracelets, we have helped pay for a stove for a Guatemalan family! This will provide a family in Guatemala with a fuel-efficient, clean-burning stove, which should extend the life expectancy of family members by up to 15 years.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

St. John's Dad Leads Outdoor Classroom Construction!

Mr. Chris Cooper is a dedicated dad of three girls in our school – Jocelyn, Natasha , and Brooklyn - as well as baby Selena (a future St. John’s student!). His wife, Carrie, is a graduate of St. John’s herself. The Cooper Family has really come through for our school community, and Mr. Cooper's commitment to bringing a unique outdoor classroom experience to our students in inspiring!

Mr. Cooper has donated materials and time into making a beautiful oak cabinet and hutch to raffle off for our playground.  He has also arranged to transport the cabinet to various fundraiser events around Perth, in an effort to bolster raffle ticket sales! In addition, Mr. Cooper is making a storyteller’s chair and seating for our outdoor classroom, as well as a cross for our prayer corner.  He has also helped us with obtaining the permit for the outdoor classroom stage by asking Robert Demerath of Demerath Design & Drafting, to draw the design plans required by the Town of Perth for the permit application. As the owner of CR Cooper Construction in Balderson and a carpenter, St. John’s is lucky to have Mr. Cooper serve as an adviser and expert in the planning for the outdoor classroom. 

Mr. Cooper says, "I believe that you get out of life what you put into it!" His efforts and his continued offers to help out wherever he can is truly heart warming.

We want to extend a huge thank you to Chris for all he has done for helping make dreams come true for the students (and many teachers!) of St. John’s

We encourage all St. John’s parents to come out and volunteer on Build Day on Saturday, May 29, and you can help Mr. Cooper and Ms. Nolan construct our new outdoor classroom!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Students at Rideau Vista School in Westport Pay it Forward!

This week, St. John's School  received a beautiful letter in the mail with a cheque for $240 to help support our playground build. The money raised was from students at Rideau Vista School  in Westport, who won a Let Them Be Kids Award last year and transformed their own school yard. 

For several weeks, the students at Rideau Vista  sold cupcakes and raffled off Senators memorabilia. They raised enough money to give all schools in the region - St. John's , Chimo, and VanCleek Hill - each $240 towards their individual Let Them Be Kids playground projects. What a wonderful way of giving back. We extend our deepest gratitude to Rideau Vista School!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Perth's Local OPP Officers Help St. John's Students!

Yesterday was a cold, rainy Saturday in Perth, with chilly temps for a May weekend. Support for St. John's playground continued though, with a fundraiser BBQ hosted at Barnabe's Your Independent Grocer.  Yesterday's BBQ was organized by Perth's local OPP members, and our school is so fortunate to have members of our active provincial police force, who dedicate their time and energy outside work hours to help our community project! Special thanks to Paige Whiting and Angie Atkinson of the Perth OPP for leading the charge!

Over $325 was raised at the BBQ yesterday, with local grocery shoppers enjoying sausages, hot dogs and hamburgers at lunch time. All proceeds go towards St. John's playground renovation, which will take place in only three weeks on Build Day - Saturday, May 29th!

So many of the Perth community's officers in uniform, from the OPP to Perth Police to our local firefighters' associations (just to name a few!), have generously committed their time, efforts and resources to help give St. John's students a fabulous outdoor play experience! Our school salutes our hard-working  men and women who give of themselves in their daily jobs to make our community safe, and we're in awe of their ongoing efforts outside work, which make Perth a better place to live!

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Perth's Metro Grocery Store Brings "Fuel" to St. John's Students!

This past Friday, May 7, our local Brownlee's Metro Grocery store brought the "Fuel for Kids" program to St. John's Catholic Elementary School

St. John's staff and students enjoyed a complimentary lunch provided by Metro's team sponsors, along with a visit from the Schneider's Race Team! Our students appreciated the great BBQ lunch and a special snack pack, and even got a chance to see the 500 HP Schneider's race car and could receive an autographed photo of the car, signed in person by race car driver, Dave Connelly!

After the St. John's school visit, the "Fuel for Kids" team made a stop at the Perth Metro store later on Friday afternoon from 3pm-7pm, to host a BBQ and display the Schneider's race car! All proceeds went towards St. John's School new playground! Thank you Brownlee's Metro!

Excited St. John's School students check out the Schneider's race car brought to the school by Brownlee's Metro last week! 

Race car driver Dave Connelly was a huge hit with the children, who enjoyed a free lunch compliments of Perth's  
Metro grocery store, while receiving autographs and talking about Schneider's funky race car!