An inspiration to many Comox Valley students will return to the Valley in June — this time to help students fundraise for a huge I Can project.
American singer/songwriter Jesse Ruben toured Valley schools in January spreading the uplifting message of his song We Can to students. The song complemented the I Can initiative, which empowers students through self-directed community service projects and has taken off in the Valley this school year.
Now, Queneesh Elementary School teacher Jen Turner says Ruben will be back for a mid-June visit dubbed the Playground Tour. He will help Queneesh students fundraise to build a new playground at Glacier View Learning Centre.
The fundraising project is a school-wide I Can project, and Turner notes it’s a big undertaking for the students because playgrounds are expensive.
“If we could raise $20,000 that would be amazing, and if we could raise more that would be even more amazing,” she says, adding $20,000 would be enough for a simple playground, and the Comox Valley School District has offered to cover the cost of installation once the equipment is purchased.
Glacier View Learning Centre used to be an elementary school years ago and it had a playground on-site. But, since it became a learning centre and alternate high school with no younger students, playground upkeep wasn’t a priority for the Comox Valley School District as it has to focus on playgrounds at its elementary schools. The playground fell into disrepair, and last year, it was taken down for safety reasons.
But, some young children do spend time at the learning centre now. A program called Waiting for the Bus, which is similar to StrongStart, started last year and was really successful. Because of its success, a StrongStart program began at the site last week.
“And now they have a family literacy outreach program there as well, so the programs are growing down there and there’s a bigger need for there to be a playground down there,” continues Turner, adding many Queneesh students live in the area and some of the older students went to Glacier View when it was still an elementary school.
She told her class about the situation and they wanted to help immediately.
“The outcry from the kids in my classroom was huge,” says Turner. “A lot of them, because they’re Grade 6/7, they went there when they were in kindergarten and Grade 1 and 2 — that was their school.
“So for them, they’re sharing stories of ‘I went across the monkey bars there for the first time,’ or ‘I did my first flip off the big toy,’ … and they were just like, ‘We need to build a playground there, that’s really important.'”
Ruben will perform at Queneesh Elementary School (2345 Mission Rd.) at 6:30 p.m. on June 14. Admission will be by donation, and up to 800 people can attend. The event will also feature a silent auction, and the school is looking for auction item donations until June 13. Cash donations can also be dropped off at the school.
For more information about how to donate, contact Jen Turner at 250-334-4089.
Ruben will perform at the Avalanche Bar and Grill on June 11 at 9 p.m. with partial proceeds going to the playground project. Tickets for the adult event cost $20 and can be picked up at the Avalanche or at Queneesh.
Like his last visit, Ruben will also visit various Comox Valley elementary schools for daytime workshops and concerts.
He will also do an outdoor performance at École Puntledge Park Elementary school June 13 at 6:30 p.m. Proceeds from this concert will go towards repairs on Puntledge’s playground.