ECUM SECUM—A group of moms who fondly remember their carefree days frolicking in this small community’s playground have received $60,000 from the provincial government to rebuild the facility for the benefit of local children.
The money will actually flow through the Ecum Secum Volunteer Fire Department, but Tiffany Pye – spokesperson for the Ecum Secum Playground Committee of six local women who have been working to get the project off the ground for months – couldn’t be happier.
“When we formed our group back in October, we had to form a subcommittee under them [fire department] so we could have a bank account,” she says. “Everything we do right now has to go through them. It’s their land, as well.”
Since then, though, “We have formed our own non-profit group. Moving forward, we will be doing things on our own as the Community Park Committee.”
The contribution is a welcome addition to a fund that’s been steadily growing since the group announced its plans last fall. To date, it has managed to raise upwards of $100,000 from various municipal and provincial government sources and private fundraising. “We’ve raised – through bingo and [a] penny auction and tickets on things – pretty much $40,000 on our own,” Pye says, adding: “The sweaters were a big hit.”
She explains: “One of our girls was just going to do an at-home thing and make a couple of dollars. She thought, ‘Why not put it towards the playground’. She had these designs [suitable for printing on sweatshirts] that she came up with in her own, and we posted them on Facebook. The whole thing blew up. We did it out of her house in her kitchen, and all [our] kids were there and it was just very hectic. Around the middle of November, we did another one, and we got almost 1,000 orders.”
The time and effort have been a labour of love, says Pye, who is in her 20s and has two kids, aged two-and-a-half and 16 months. “We grew up with the playground basically falling apart, and that was probably the last time we had equipment there, but we went skating there every night. And, after school, we’d play hockey and just have bonfires.”
The moms, who collectively have 14 kids, wanted something like that but even better for their broods. “We had nothing here anymore,” Pye says. “When we did our community cleanup, we got rid of all the old equipment. Now, we have one metal bench. And the old building where we used to tie out skates is rotten, so we’re going to fix that up.”
The group estimates the whole playground project may take a year or more to complete and could cost as much as $180,000. But they’re not worried. Interest and support are growing.
“The municipality [District of St. Mary’s] reached out to us, too,” Pye says. “They wanted to put in an electric charging station here, which would have been the first along the [Eastern] Shore. They are probably going to circle back to us on that.”
According to the funding announcement from the province: “These funds help community groups, municipalities and other not-for-profit organizations develop and improve facilities to increase public participation in sport and physical recreation.”
Added Greg Morrow, MLA for Guysborough-Tracadie, in a statement: “Recreation is at the core of building and sustaining healthy individuals, teams and communities.”