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Thew Elementary School Receives Grant for New Football Field in Tempe's Escalante Park
The Thew Elementary School and Escalante Community Center community will soon have a very new addition to their local park. Thanks to the Arizona Cardinals, National Football League (NFL) Foundation, and Local Initiative Support Corporation (LISC), Thew and the City of Tempe were awarded a $100,000 grant to renovate Escalante Park in Tempe.
Escalante Park, located just north of Thew Elementary School, has limited use from the community and the students due to the transient population and lack of light at night. The renovation will include a new turf field and a lit walking path with exercise stations. Once the renovation is complete, the park will be the perfect location for school physical education programs and for city and community intramural sports, and provide encouragement for consistent use of the field for soccer, football, and festivals throughout the community.
Thew Principal Marissa Schneckloth worked very closely with the City of Tempe to make this vision come alive. “The city reached out to me to collaboratively apply for the NFL grant to build a multi-use field at Escalante Park.” Schneckloth continued, “The City of Tempe had plans to renovate the park and add lighting to increase the community use of the facility; with the option of the NFL grant and the partnership with Tempe Elementary School District and Thew Elementary School, it will provide extensive opportunities for after school clubs, intramural sports, and weekend athletic events.”
On Tuesday, November 24, 2015, the Thew community, members of the Tempe Elementary School District, the City of Tempe, the Arizona Cardinals, the NFL Foundation, and LISC joined together to break ground for this amazing renovation. Event attendees were thrilled to welcome three very special guests – City of Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell, Arizona Cardinals mascot Big Red, and Quarterback Carson Palmer!
Nearly 50 Thew students had the opportunity to attend the groundbreaking event and hear remarks from Mitchell and Palmer.
After the ground was officially broken, Palmer took a few minutes to talk with the students and motivate them. “If you guys want to wear a jersey like this, or be a teacher – whatever your goal may be – it takes hard work,” said Palmer. “It takes listening, it takes being coachable or being teachable, which means listening to your teachers and coaches, and giving it your absolute best effort – that is all that matters in the end.”
After the ceremony, event dignitaries took photos and Palmer signed autographs for the students. Students even received a Cardinals shirt – many of them asked Palmer to sign their shirt so they can remember the event for a lifetime.
“Teaching the whole child is essential to the educational experience. Our students exhibit an interest in athletics such as soccer and football, and this will provide those students opportunities that they may not have otherwise due to financial hardship or transportation,” said Schneckloth. “For some students, athletics will be the key to motivate them to focus on their education and to have future opportunities in middle school, high school, and college.” She continued, “Physical education may be the area they feel most successful in and physical activity is so important for students to practice and develop healthy habits at a young age. Afterschool and weekend athletics will give them positive activities to be involved in outside of school.”
Through a partnership between the NFL Foundation and Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), the Grassroots Program – the nation’s leading community development support organization – has committed nearly $40 million to the program since 1998, supporting the creation or refurbishment of 306 fields nationwide.Schneckloth explained she is most looking forward to future partnerships with the City of Tempe and Escalante Community Center, such as festivals and community events in the renovated park. The Escalante Community Center has a history of supporting Thew families, students, and school community, and this will enable that partnership to reach new levels.