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St-Denis students give Walford retirement home grounds facelift

Walford activity director said with residents in a COVID lockdown, it was nice for residents to see the ‘action’ of the kids working outside

Grade 8 students with École St-Denis gave the grounds of the Walford retirement home in Greater Sudbury’s South End a facelift Thursday.

Students undertook a number of chores, including washing windows, painting benches, staining a gazebo, rehabbing a flower planter, planting flowers and more.

Christine Dénommé, who teaches grade 7 and 8 as well as religion at the school, explains that she got the idea to partner with the Walford in teaching her students about giving back to others as part of the school’s “Pay It Forward” project.

What she and fellow Grade 8 teacher Vincenzo Dagostino really wanted to do was have students spend some time with the residents of the care home.

Unfortunately, the Walford has been in a COVID lockdown since the beginning of May, so that wasn’t possible.So Dénommé “started thinking outside the box,” and asked if there was anything the kids could do to spruce up the facility’s grounds.

“I think the more good we do, outside of who we are, the better everything would be,” she said.

“I have amazing kids that are doing amazing. They’re gardening, they’re taking stuff apart and rebuilding. I had some with hammers, they’re going to stain.”

Dénommé said she also involved her Grade 7 students by having them make up little gifts and cards with messages for residents of the Walford.

Grade 8 student Sophie Keenan, who was sanding the gazebo to prep the structure for staining, said the project has been a great experience, especially since they haven’t had any field trips lately due to COVID, and it was nice to get out of the classroom.

She said it felt good to help others, “because like, you know that you did this, so you left your mark here.”

Trina McKerral, activity director with the Walford, said having the young people help out around the care home’s grounds is “unbelievable, actually.She said staff would normally have to clean up around the facility’s grounds after winter, but the Walford has been short staffed due to COVID.“It might have gotten put aside for the last two years, you know, so this is just fantastic,” McKerral said.For the residents, it’s nice to see the kids out and about, “just to see action, you know. Because we’re in (COVID) lockdown, they can't come out that much, but they can look through their window and enjoy everything going on.”

Heidi Ulrichsen is the associate content editor at She also covers education and the arts scene.