For Shane McEvoy, the look on the children’s faces said it all.
Scores of laughing, smiling Tecumseh Public School students were lining up to take turns on the equipment at the official opening of the school’s fit trail Tuesday morning.
“I’m happy now that it’s open,” he laughed. “The children certainly seem to enjoy it.”
McEvoy, a physical education teacher at Tecumseh, was the initial driving force behind creation of the one-kilometre trail which has nine fit stations located around its perimeter.
“We had this space which we could use, and we all know that exercise and activity is good for children and adults,” he said. “It was just a matter of finding a project that worked.”
He researched a number of options in Europe before settling on the track and fitness station model. Those using the trail can stop at the nine locations and use the equipment to strengthen various parts of their bodies.
It was also a matter of forming partnerships with the Tecumseh Home and School Association, Chatham Optimists, the Union Gas Helping Hands in Action program, the Chatham-Kent Greening Partnership and securing approvals and help from the municipality and Lambton-Kent District School Board.
“Without the help and co-operation of these groups and individuals, the trail wouldn’t be here today,” he said. “We had lots of support.”
The home and school association raised $8,000, and the Optimist Club chipped in $10,000 over two years. Other groups also contributed, including Harris Brothers Construction which made sure the limestone-screened surface is comfortable and usable for walkers, joggers and cyclists.
Optimist spokesman Steve Tuinstra said the trail fits in with the club’s mandate of helping youth but is also a boon to the entire population.
“There are a lot of retired people who use the tennis courts (adjacent to the school) so I’m sure word is going to get around about how good the facility is for everyone,” he said.
The club raised funds by holding golf tournaments, the next one being held at Blenheim July 5.
Tecumseh Principal Darlene Penney said she’s proud that her school is the first in the area to have the trail.
“It supports our goals of community partnership and since the trail is free an accessible to everyone, it encourages physical activity.
Kathryn Kielstra, a member of the municipality’s parks department, said the nine exercise options are placed in four pods along the length of the trail.
“It’s really an opportunity for people to tailor their exercise program to exactly what they want,” she said.