The Mary Lake Marathon is back for a second year, and organizer Robin Mounsteven is running in support of V.K. Greer Memorial Public School.
Mounsteven will be hitting the streets of Port Sydney on Nov. 6 to raise funds for the kindergarten program and playground at V.K. Greer. Funds will support landscaping as well as the removal and installation of play structures and other outdoor amenities. Because of planning limitations, Mounsteven will be running the marathon on his own, but he plans to host a larger community fun run in support of V.K. Greer in the spring. He was inspired to support the school as both a teacher and a parent, and after raising over $27,000 last year, he’s excited to be back at it.
“I’m extremely honoured to take on this initiative and try to bring awareness and support surrounding the playground and the program itself,” he said. “It’s just an incredible amount of pride I feel.”
Mounsteven works as a prep teacher at V.K. Greer and his daughter Olive is currently enrolled in the kindergarten program, so he’s familiar with the limitations of their current playground. He said that much of the outdoor recreation area has seen better days, so he thought it would be a good opportunity to better engage students of all abilities as well as the broader community.
Many pieces of larger playground equipment can cost anywhere from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of dollars. While he’s hopeful that the spring fun run can contribute to longer-term equipment goals, Mounsteven aims to raise at least $10,000 to support immediate improvements.
“It’s the first thing that you see as you drive up the driveway, and it’s used on weekends, it’s accessed by different groups of people in the community,” Mounsteven said. “It’s important that we’re allowing them access to different types of equipment as well, and I think that it needs to have accessible equipment.”
Nicole Kirkpatrick, chair of the V.K. Greer Parent Council, said they have big plans for the outdoor recreation area at the school, including the installation of sensory paths and pavement art to help make the space more interactive.
“Our parent council, along with the kindergarten team, have plans for improving the ground cover to eliminate wet, muddy areas and install sod,” Kirkpatrick said. “We are also planning on purchasing new outdoor play equipment and building other items like art easels and an accessible covered stage area so learning can continue outdoors.”
To further support outdoor learning, the parent council is currently fundraising to have a gazebo built in the forest behind the school, allowing students from all grade levels to learn outside in any weather. They’re also raising money for an accessible primary playground in the near future, so the funds from the Mary Lake Marathon will help support multiple aspects of their outdoor improvements.
“Mr. Mountsteven taking on this fundraising initiative is such an honour,” Kirkpatrick said. “Our entire parent council and kindergarten team are so appreciative of his efforts to help us improve the playground area for our youngest learners.”
All donations are appreciated, and for those who can’t contribute, it always helps to spread the word. Several local businesses have also offered a variety of services in place of monetary donations. Rental companies have offered equipment while others have offered manpower to help remove old play structures, so anyone who wants to offer a helping hand is invited to reach out.
Mounsteven is no stranger to running marathons, and while he hasn’t been able to train like he usually would, this run isn’t about meeting a personal best. He’ll be stopping at different sponsors and giving shout-outs along the way in hopes of raising as much awareness and support for V.K. Greer as possible.
“Port Sydney’s a great community, and it’s a family-oriented community, and I think that of all the places that you think of growing up, the playground tends to be one that you gravitate towards for some of those memories that are long-lasting,” Mounsteven said. “I want to contribute to the legacy of the Port Sydney community and what it’s already done to invest in projects and in the youngest community members.”