London ball

Oneida Playground and Ball Pit Get $500,000 More

The Oneida children will have a new place to play in the spring.

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The Oneida children will have a new place to play in the spring.

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With a grant of nearly $500,000 from the province, Oneida Nation of the Thames plans to build a new playing field and upgrade its main baseball field.

“The (game) structure itself is 23 years old,” said chef Adrian Chrisjohn.

“At this age, you start worrying about the safety of children. . . And the ballpark itself, I grew up playing ball there, I know how important that is to our community.

Oneida, a First Nations community located approximately 30 kilometers southwest of London, received the $494,700 grant through the Ontario Trillium Foundation’s funding stream. The provincial grant was intended to support improvements and repairs to sports and recreation facilities.

Along with the new playing field, the money will help replace the Oneida Community Center baseball stadium’s more than 40-year-old lighting system, providing what Chrisjohn describes as a brighter, more sustainable option.

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The projects are developed through a partnership between the Oneida Community Center and the First Nation’s Economic Development and Recreation Services. Construction is expected to begin in early spring.

For many, the warmer weather will mean returning to a field they haven’t used since before the pandemic.

“It’s been a struggle because of COVID for the past two years to organize the sport, but we’re looking at a spring approach” to start building the projects, Chrisjohn said.

Chrisjohn noted that the community, which has more than 2,100 residents and nearly 6,300 members, has a large population of children in grades K-6 and is home to many talented athletes.

“It’s so important for kids, their mental health and well-being, to get back to what they love to do,” he said. “Lacrosse, baseball, hockey, all those things.”

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