WJU Students Give Elks Playground Needed Facelift

WHEELING — Service to the community is a motto of both Wheeling Jesuit University and of physical therapists, and on Saturday the Elks Playground in Wheeling got cleaned and resurfaced by WJU P.T. students as part of a yearly initiative.

“This is the Global P.T. Day of Service,” Noelle Adams, assistant professor of physical therapy with the university, said. “P.T.s all over the globe are giving service today in their local communities. (We’re working with) the city of Wheeling to restore playgrounds.”

Adams said the Day of Service is held in October every year. This is the second consecutive year the university has worked with the city on a volunteer project.

“It gives us a chance as a profession to give back to the community,” she said.

Adams added that last year, the students painted portions of a playground on 36th Street in South Wheeling.

About 18 first-, second- and third-year students in the university’s physical therapy program turned out to resurface the playground Saturday and to place borders around the play areas to hold in mulch and increase the depth of the safety surface.

“It also makes for more clean lines, making it easier for us to maintain and mow around and (trim weeds). Overall, it’s just a great improvement to our very popular Elks playground,” Jesse Mestrovic, director of parks and strategic planning for the city of Wheeling, said. He also pointed out the nearby athletic field, adding that the site sees considerable use. “This whole facility is exceptionally popular. … It’s all around a great recreational complex we have here.”

“This helps them build their resumes and helps them provide service, which is a part of what we do at Wheeling Jesuit,” Adams said. “It’s part of the curriculum. … Wheeling Jesuit students provide service throughout the community locally, internationally and regionally.”

“Service is big with WJU, and I think it’s an awesome opportunity to spend time with your classmates, even the upper classmen, out here in the community doing work,” Amanda King, first-year student, said. A native of Dover, Ohio, she looked forward to lending a hand in the project. “It’ll be nice when we come back, drive around the area and see it being used and impacting the kids that come here and play.”

This is the second year of volunteering for Jacob Jackson, a third-year student from Illinois who is set to graduate in December.

“I like doing service. I like helping people out, especially (for the children) to have a place to go to and have fun — a safe environment that’s different than staying indoors all the time,” he said. “It’s very beautiful.”

Hugo Andreini III, in his final year in the physical therapy program, is a Wheeling native who was born and raised in the city. He said projects close to home have a special significance for him.

“Growing up, some of the best memories are on a playground. You’re active. You test your limits. You learn from your mistakes,” he said. “It’s where being active starts, and it’s nice to bring in the next generation to that active lifestyle they can enjoy.”

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