During Tuesday’s Shawnee Board of Education meeting, Michelle Briggs, Avedis Foundation President and CEO, announced that Shawnee Public Schools’ Middle School Project is the recipient of a $1.5 million grant. Briggs said, to date, this is the largest grant given by the foundation –– double the amount of any single grant previously doled out by the group.

During Tuesday’s Shawnee Board of Education meeting, Michelle Briggs, Avedis Foundation President and CEO, announced that Shawnee Public Schools’ Middle School Project is the recipient of a $1.5 million grant.

Briggs said, to date, this is the largest grant given by the foundation –– double the amount of any single grant previously doled out by the group.

The funds will allow increased educational and wellness opportunities for students and the community through the construction of the Shawnee Middle School multi-purpose/tennis courts, walking trails, sidewalk and nature play and learning place project.

Board of Education member Larry Walker said he couldn’t say enough about his appreciation for the Avedis Foundation and its grant to the school.

Marc Moore, Shawnee Public Schools Superintendent, said, “We are excited about the potential this project has to improve the accessibility to health and wellness recreation for our students and for the community.”

Once the project is complete, Moore said the community is encouraged to access the walking trails, improved sidewalks, nature learning site and the multi-purpose/tennis courts.

“Supporting a project of this caliber validates the mission of the Avedis Foundation,” Briggs said. “We feel that the Shawnee Middle School Project will positively impact the lives of students and residents, with health benefits that extend well into the future.”

The City of Shawnee will provide, at no charge, engineering, bidding, contracting, and construction management for the sidewalk portion of the project, an act that will lower the cost of the sidewalk installation by 11 percent. The sidewalks will create an uninterrupted sidewalk along Union Street for 2.25 miles.

“The City of Shawnee gladly supports this collaborative project with Shawnee Schools and the Avedis Foundation; it is a win-win for everyone involved,” said Justin Erickson, Shawnee City Manager.

Moore said the grant also provides recreational areas for community-based youth teams and for community members living on the north side of Shawnee.

“Most of our recreational areas are currently farther south. This will be a great thing for our end of town,” Moore said.

Groundbreaking for the project is anticipated during November.

The grant announcement came right before Wednesday’s observance of National Walk to School Day.

Students and adults will walk in support of National Walk to School day along the route where sidewalks will be put in on behalf of the Avedis Foundation Grant and collaboration with the City of Shawnee. The symbolic walk is set to highlight the benefits of walking to school, the importance of safe school walking routes, and the future projects of the Avedis Foundation Grant.

The group will start at the northwest corner of Union and MacArthur Streets in the parking lot where they will walk to Shawnee Middle School at 4300 N. Union Ave. Police escorts will be provided.

This is the second grant awarded to Shawnee Public Schools. The school system’s first grant was awarded in November 2013 when Avedis gave $110,500 in funds for two projects: a $21,000 grant was for the Parents as Teachers program, and a $89,500 grant was given for security camera installation at the high school, middle school, elementary schools and early Childhood center.

For more information, visit avedisfoundation.org.

Tell me your story ideas. You can reach Vicky O. Misa at (405) 214-3962.