Late September is still five months away, but it is a date that cannot come fast enough for the students and teachers of Acreman Elementary in Green's Harbour.
That is the day earmarked for the completion of a long-awaited new playground for the school and the communities it serves.
During an assembly April 20 guised as a celebration of the school's talent from past and present, the playground committee surprised the students by announcing the awarding of a Let Them Be Kids helping hand award that will allow the school to construct new playground in the coming months.
Inside the gymnasium, students from the K-6 school were treated to the musical styling of former students of Acreman and parents and grandparents of children currently attending.
Taking their cue from the television show Canada's Got Talent, the gymnasium lights dimmed and members of the local playground committee held up placards announcing "We've Won A Playground Award."
There was an instant eruption of screams and excitement, followed by the dropping of balloons.
A large screen then descended from the stage, and a recorded message from Let Them Be Kids founder Ian Hill congratulated the school and the four communities that will prosper from the new playground - Green's Harbour, Hopeall, Whiteway and Cavendish. It is slated to be completed during a one-day build on Sept. 29.
The award was one of 30 given out to communities across Canada, and "allows the dream of a school and community playground to come true," stated Acreman principal Patricia Collins-Yetman.
The committee consists of community members, business owners and teachers who "all share a common goal" of getting a new playground constructed.
"It's going to be an all-inclusive playground," said Collins-Yetman.
She said the committee hopes the facility will help foster a new sense of community and togetherness amongst its residents.
The beauty of the helping hand award is how it is structured.
Let Them Be Kids provides a 50/50 matching grant, which goes towards the purchase of new equipment as well as support, training and the resources needed to make the project a success.
"Every 50 cents we raise will result in $1 of buying power. We're halfway there already," said Collins-Yetman.
The principal estimated the job to cost in the $30,000-50,000 range by the time the final bolt has been tightened.
How it started
Acreman teacher Cathy Reid made the initial contact with Let Them Be Kids.
In November, Reid browsed the foundation's website after she was directed to it by Natasha Mercer with Recreation Newfoundland and Labrador.
The videos of other communities that had won struck a chord with her.
"I watched the video and I couldn't hold back the tears," she said. "As I watched, I could see the parents of our children there. I could see our community members and our fire departments."
Fuelled by the connection she felt with the people in the video, Reid filled out an application.
The group had to go through a series of interviews with Let Them Be Kids before they were selected.
The children choose
Over the next couple of months, a unique scenario will be unfolding at Acreman as students begin the "dotmocracy" process for selecting playground equipment. This will ensure a fair and democratic selection program.
This is scheduled to happen May 4.
The playground will be located on the grounds of Acreman Elementary, but the sense of pride generated by this new facility will be felt throughout the area.
All four communities that feed the school's population will be touched by it.
"Our small communities are going to pull together for the sake of the kids and great things are going to happen," said Reid.
The playground will be "space for people of all ages and abilities to enjoy a safe and healthy environment," added Collins-Yetman.
"We hope that residents of all four communities will volunteer to be a part of an ... event that will see the vision come together."