TORONTO, Oct. 4, 2013 /CNW/ - On Tuesday October 8, from 5 pm to 8 pm, students, staff, families, friends, donors, and dignitaries will gather at Valley Park Middle School at its annual school & community bbq to celebrate the start of Phase One construction of the Valley Park Go Green Cricket Field Project (VPGGCFP). Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, MP John Carmichael, Councillor John Parker and Trustee Gerri Gershon will be among those onsite who will participate in the ceremonial groundbreaking. Also participating and sharing the podium will be Toronto Community Foundation President and CEO Rahul Bhardwaj, and Jays Care Foundation Board Vice-Chair, Secretary & Treasurer, Stuart Hutcheson. Receiving honours and embroidered commemorative cricket hats will be other top donors including representatives from Ontario Trillium Foundation, Live Green Toronto, Jays Care Foundation, Greenwin Inc., RBC Foundation and TD Bank. Student-led proceedings will be held in the school cafetorium and begin sharply at 6 pm.
The grassroots project, which builds an environmentally friendly multi-sport cricket field in the Priority Neighbourhood of Flemingdon Park; and Thorncliffe Park, first grabbed attention two years ago when it hosted the Crazy for Cricket Sleepover: Toronto's Biggest World Cup Cricket Party Ever! The widely publicized event attracted more than 1000 people, adults and children, who slept overnight at the school to watch the ICC World Cup Finals projected on the back wall of the school gymnasium. Followed by countless community fundraisers: a 2011 Mehfil E-Mushaira Urdu Poetry evening, a 2012 Crazy for Cricket Match & Musical Evening, a 2012 Crazy for Cricket Gala, a 2013 Friends of Valley Park's Musical Extravaganza, the efforts form part of a tireless campaign that attracted funds from private individuals, local businesses, foundations and corporations.
"It's hard to believe it's finally starting," said Nick Stefanoff, VPMS Principal and co-chair of the VPGGCFP, now called the Valley Park Centre of Excellence. (VPCE). "We've overcome hurdles in trying to combine and sub-license unused Hydro land and a school yard. We could not have done this without the efforts of impassioned students and staff buoyed by the enthusiasm and dream of an entire community."
Once an informal committee of driven staff and community activists, the group has transformed itself into an independent incorporated non-profit entity represented by a local board of directors. Its Phase One construction was facilitated by a collaborative partnership with the neighbourhood settlement services agencies TNO and FNS; its tax receipts issued by the TDSB's arms length Toronto Foundation for Student Success. In exchange for investing slightly more than $1.25 million in the expanded site, VPCE has negotiated exclusive permitting rights after 6 pm on school days and all day long on weekends and holidays. VPCE's goal is to deliver 80% of programming for free to at-risk youth while at the same time fundraising to pay the TDSB to maintain the new sports field above normal standards.
Several youth cricket coaches, trained by VPCE last spring, successfully led an inaugural summer training camp and now teach clinics Tuesday and Thursday evenings in the VPMS gym. This year's goal is to expand the local youth coaching capacity and to introduce additional sports for when the field opens for play in the summer of 2014. VPCE recently received a one-year grant from the City of Toronto's Community Recreation Investment Fund Program to build this coaching capacity.
VPCE selected Rutherford Contracting to build Phase One after a competitive tender last fall. The $1.25 million Phase One builds a multi-sport field surrounded by a red clay running track, a bioswale, a wetland with a lookout/boardwalk, butterfly meadow and urban forest. OTF, and other donors, including local businesses from the Leaside Business Park Association, are recognized as donors to the overall project. Live Green Toronto is recognized for its contributions to the storm water management system and a part of the ecological amenities; TCF at the butterfly meadow, and TD Bank, the urban forest. A recent funding partner Jays Care Foundation will be honoured at a new baseball backstop and at two new cricket and baseball practice cages.
The first target of Phase Two fundraising is a quest for outdoor sports lights, which will make the project Canada's first-ever cricket field with lights. The dream inspired community leaders to organize two teams of at least 25 dedicated adult volunteers, which are prepared to canvass door-to-door on weekday evenings in Thorncliffe and Flemingdon apartments. The canvassers will blitz the neighbourhood weekday evenings from 6 pm to 9 pm for at least the next month.
The canvass kicks off the project's $700,000.00 Phase Two fundraising campaign, which will begin immediately following the groundbreaking and will include a November gala and private fundraiser. Phase Two fundraising will also cover a multi-sport video scoreboard, amphitheater-style seating, a refurbished multi-sport basketball court, a rooftop rainwater harvesting system, a community food garden, and a living donor wall.
Image with caption: "Groundbreaking at last! (CNW Group/Valley Park Go Green Cricket Field Project)". Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20131004_C7250_PHOTO_EN_31697.jpg
SOURCE: Valley Park Go Green Cricket Field Project
For further information:
Nick Stefanoff. VPMS Principal & Valley Park Centre of Excellence (VPCE) Co-Chair
416 949 4130 or 416 396 2465
Lisa Grogan-Green, VPCE Co-Chair, 647 388 3200
Aparna Mishra, VPCE Executive Director, 647 707 6072
Phase Two Apartment Blitz Co-Chairs
Ali Baig, VPCE Treasurer, 416 727 7906
Abdul Ingar, Community Activist, 416 230 5229
Mazhar Shafiq, VPCE Board Member, 647 717 5149
Yousuf Syed, VPCE Board Member, 416-669-8492