Corp Comm Connects

Stouffvile Grade 7 class proposes town build a youth park for teens

Ideas for park include a parkour area, spinning structure and rope climbing area
June 24, 2021
Simon Martin

What’s there to do for teens in Stouffville? That’s the question that sparked Connie Calvert’s Grade 7 class at Summitview Public School to dream big. “Since it’s COVID we can’t really go anywhere,” student Keiran McMullen said. “I’m not going to lie ... it’s been quite boring. Like very, very, very boring.”

“Stouffville needs some upgrades. At least for us,” added student Jordan Newell

The upgrades Keiran and Jordan are talking about is a park dedicated for teens ages 12 to 18. While the town has loads of parks, the students can’t help but notice they are geared towards younger kids and they feel like the public isn’t always happy when they show up at the park.

Instead of another baby swing, think about a parkour area or rope climbing area or a spinning structure.

Calvert said the class started discussing the idea of a park designed for teens in the spring. “Part of our curriculum is to get the kids to talk about what are the changes they’d like to see in the community,” she said. 

The class came up with three things that bothered them in Stouffville which included: too much fast food garbage, having young people’s voices heard at the municipal level and parks that were geared towards little kids.

“We came up with a youth park. We thought about building a space where we could be physically active,” Keiran said.

Calvert followed up on the idea and got various experts to come into the class/Zoom to help lead them forward including Ward 6 Coun. Sue Sherban who liked their idea so much she told them to present it to council, which they did June 15.

The class had conducted focus groups with the help of professors from York University and intend to reach out to children ages 12 to 18 through a survey. They had already gathered responses from 78 youth with the hopes of reaching hundreds more.

In the survey they ask what physical attributes do you want to see in the park. While the class doesn’t have a location as of yet, town staff are going to respond to the presentation with a report. Some suggested locations included part of the new memorial park or in the 10th line area.
The class is already talking about lining up sponsors to help make their park dream a reality and while the end of the school year is near they are all but assured to be in the same class next year with only one Grade 8 class planned at Summitview. “The majority of the class has been together since kindergarten,” Jordan said.

They are working with the Stouffville Public Library to make 3D models of the design.

Council was full of praise for the work the class did.

“I’m blown away. Kudos to you,” Sherban said. Getting youth involved in the community is something the town dreams of, Sherban said. “We will definitely be able to work and do something,” she said.

“I I don’t think there is anyone of us who is not thoroughly impressed with the amount of work and research and passion you have for your community,” Mayor Iain Lovatt said.

When Calvert first started with the project it was hard to imagine what it has become. “I’m surprised this is how far it went,” she said.  

Even though her students mainly got to see her through a Zoom screen this year, it didn’t stop them from noticing how she was willing to go above and beyond for them. “Miss Calvert is the best. She is such a good teacher,” Jordan said.  “She puts in a lot of extra hours.”