News

New playground equipment for Grand Portage Community Center

Brian Larsen


My how the dirt flew on May 16! Digging in and taking part in the ground breaking ceremony at the Grand Portage Community Center were 30-40 exuberant children. The kids and many adults in the community came out to celebrate the gift of $100,000 from the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee (MNSBHC) Legacy Fund that will be used to purchase new playground equipment at the Community Center. 
Staff photo/Brian Larsen My how the dirt flew on May 16! Digging in and taking part in the ground breaking ceremony at the Grand Portage Community Center were 30-40 exuberant children. The kids and many adults in the community came out to celebrate the gift of $100,000 from the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee (MNSBHC) Legacy Fund that will be used to purchase new playground equipment at the Community Center. Staff photo/Brian Larsen In the 1950s kids didn’t have much for playground equipment in Grand Portage, said Butch Deschampe.

There was a round about, a jungle gym, sledding in the winter on cardboard— waxed cardboard if you could get it—and the ever favorite game of marbles. “We played a lot of marbles,” Butch said as he addressed a large crowd gathered for the big reveal.

Excitement built as a group of children gathered outside of the Grand Portage School and Community Center on Tuesday, May 16, and with a few dignitaries at their side, the children held a large piece of cardboard covered with brown paper.


A happy group of kids (and some local dignitaries) proudly held the giant check for $100,000 that will be used to purchase new playground equipment at the Grand Portage Community Center. 
Staff photos/Brian Larsen A happy group of kids (and some local dignitaries) proudly held the giant check for $100,000 that will be used to purchase new playground equipment at the Grand Portage Community Center. Staff photos/Brian Larsen What was underneath that brown paper?

Hmmm, something pretty special. That’s why all of the adults were there and Viktor the Viking, he was there too and he was everywhere, high fiving and playing with the wide-eyed kids who probably haven’t seen an almost seven-foot-tall Minnesota Viking.

Finally the brown paper came off and there was clapping and a cheer rose from the crowd. Revealed was a cardboard check for $100,000 that will be used to purchase new playground equipment at the Grand Portage Community Center.

The tremendous gift came from the Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee (MNSBHC) Legacy Fund.


Viktor the Viking didn’t know what he was getting into when he agreed to arm-wrestle Peyton Morrison. After a bit of back and forth, Peyton took the big guy down and gleefully celebrated while Viktor hung his head. Viktor the Viking didn’t know what he was getting into when he agreed to arm-wrestle Peyton Morrison. After a bit of back and forth, Peyton took the big guy down and gleefully celebrated while Viktor hung his head. “This grant will allow children in Grand Portage to engage in exercise and play on equipment that is functional and safe,” said Norman Deschampe, tribal chairman, Grand Portage Reservation Tribal Council. “The new playground is something we’re so proud to introduce today; this resource will encourage physical activity and community engagement and helps us continue to progress on our mission to reduce obesity and address the health disparities Native American children face.”

The Community Center playground is a collaborative effort between the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa, Grand Portage Community Center, Grand Portage Health Services, and Oshki Ogimaag Charter School. The Grand Portage Community Center will manage and maintain the playground equipment after installation. Norman said some people needed to be recognized for their efforts in securing the grant: Paula Schaefbauer, Bobby Deschampe, Judy Ranta and Mike Keyport. “These people worked really hard to make this happen.”

Carissa Bickford, age 10, spoke for many of the children when she said the new playground was going to be fun to play on. She didn’t need to say more than that. She was as right as the rain that held off for the whole ceremony that lasted about 45 minutes.

The Legacy Fund grant awarded to the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa is part of the 52 Weeks of Giving Campaign, a yearlong effort to make Super Bowl LII a statewide event by awarding 52 communities with grants that will help improve the health and wellness of young people in Minnesota.

The Community Center playground serves as the recess area for Oshki Ogimaag Charter School and is the center play-space for the children of Grand Portage. The MNSBHC Legacy Fund will help make important safety upgrades and facilitate the installation of new ground surfacing material. New playground equipment was needed. The playground’s existing equipment is in such disrepair that an Indian Health Service inspector recently recommended the equipment be replaced.

To commemorate the grant dedication, the MNSBHC and Grand Portage community joined the Lake Superior Chippewa tribe for a groundbreaking event at the site of the playground. All of the children were given plastic yellow helmets and colorful shovels for the ground breaking. And boy how the dirt flew!

The ceremony also included a powwow featuring the Stonebridge Singers and a luncheon at the Oshki Ogimaag Charter School gym. Shawls and ribbon vests that were handmade by women in the community were presented to each child for dancing at this special celebration.

“The children of Grand Portage needed new playground equipment to safely play, and these organizations stepped up to address the issue,” said Dana Nelson, vice president of Legacy and Community Partnerships for the MNSBHC Legacy Fund. “We are grateful to work with the Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and the other organizations as part of our 52 Weeks of Giving. We are very excited to help provide underserved Native American youth with opportunities for physical activity.”

The Minnesota Super Bowl Host Committee is a private, nonprofit corporation formed to plan and execute Super Bowl LII. For more information visit www.mnsuperbowl.com and follow @mnsuperbowl2018 on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.


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