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Rob Altemeyer, MLA Wolseley
December 3, 2012

Magnus Eliason Recreational Centre

Mr. Speaker, the Magnus Eliason Recreation Centre, known as the MERC, is located on Langside Street in the heart of the Spence neighbourhood. Led by the Spence Neighbourhood Association and the Youth Agencies Alliance, the MERC provides local youth with a safe place to play sports and take part in after school drop-in programs.

In October, our provincial government and Manitoba Lotteries partnered with the Spence Neighbourhood Association and none other than the National Basketball Association to unveil the newly renovated gymnasium at the MERC. The new features include everything from a refurbished gym floor to new wall pads, new backboards, several dozen new NBA basketballs, new scoreboard, shot clock, timer, and many other features.

I was really pleased to join our Premier, Mr. Selinger, at the grand opening for this amazing celebration where kids from the local neighbourhood had a chance to meet NBA legend and hall of famer Clyde “the Glide” Drexler. Members of the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Harlem Globetrotters were also on hand to help local kids with their skills and some off some of their professional moves.

Mr. Speaker, our government has really fought to promote the benefits of giving kids an opportunity to play sports in all parts of our province. I know from my own experience as a youth athlete, youth are able to grow as individuals and learn to work together as a team. In turn, sport helps foster healthy neighbourhoods and communities where citizens can learn to work together and trust each other. The MERC is an essential part of this process in the Spence neighbourhood and the gymnasium's revitalization is an essential part in the amazing accomplishments that this community is achieving.

Today in the gallery we have with us: Jamil Mahmood, the executive director of the Spence Neighbourhood Association; Chino Argueta, the recreation and sports coordinator for the Youth Agencies Alliance; and Adam Wedlake, the executive director of Basketball Manitoba. These community organizations were essential in creating this lasting legacy in Spence neighbourhood. I'd ask all of my MLA colleagues here in the House to join me in thanking them for their tireless efforts on behalf of today's youth.

Thank you.