Students and staff at Strathcona Elementary and Community Centre were literally jumping with excitement at the grand opening of their newly upgraded gymnasium. Not only was 42 years of wear and tear sanded down and polished to a near-blinding sheen, but players from Canada's only NBA team, the Toronto Raptors, stopped by the facility to run a basketball clinic for 40 boys and girls.
Following the ceremonial ribbon cutting with Mayor Gregor Robertson, Dan MacKenzie, Vice President and Managing Director, NBA Canada, and Loring Phinney, Vice President, Corporate Marketing, Bell Canada, select Raptors players hosted NBA FIT, a basketball clinic that focuses on the values of the game and healthy living.
The gym floor is almost unrecognizable following the estimated $65,000 refurbishment. Two additional hoops were installed and all six backboards are now glass. The gym was also given a new paint facelift, both inside and out. A major feature for the young players are the new hoops, which can adjust to a lowered height for even the smallest atheletes-Strathcona community basketball league is open to players starting at four years of age. And the icing on the cake are the 40 new NBA basketballs.
Over the past four decades, the floor had built up so many layers of wax that the original wood had become a dull, dark brown. With funding support from the NBA, the floor was sanded down to the original hardwood. But the new court reflects more than just a shiny floor.
"Strathcona is one of the oldest neighbourhoods in Vancouver," says Amanda Gibbs, President, Strathcona Community Centre Association. "It's also a neighbourhood that experiences a lot of poverty. It's considered one of the poorest postal codes in Canada. But at the same time the neighbourhood shows incredible resilience. The community really works together here to support children, families, and seniors. The school and the community centre work together to offer a lot of support for families."
With newly painted lines and a varnished court, Harvey Eng, Strathcona Community Centre's Community Recreation Supervisor, says the gym will have a meaningful impact on the community, "The gym looks so amazing; it will have a positive influence on how kids see themselves-that they are as important as any other kids in the city".
He adds that the community centre has lots of kids involved in basketball, but their main goal is not to produce good players but to produce good people. "Basketball is just a tool that works for a lot of kids. The Strathcona gym is a major gathering place for the community, and is now a place that we can all be very proud of. Our gym was good enough to host the Raptors!"
The court revitalization is part of NBA Cares, the NBA's global social responsibility program.
To view photos from the event CLICK HERE
Click on the image below to check out our Flickr album for more photos.