Today, Mianyang's main stadium holds not spectators but survivors of China's largest natural catastrophes in recent memory.
Approximately 20,000 people of all ages are crowded into the inside halls or scattered on the outside plazas: children running and playing, adults talking, eating, some reading or playing cards. Many people are strewn listless on blankets, just trying to get a moment's peace.
In fact the entire city resembles a giant refugee camp. Makeshift tents of plastic sheeting and tarp line the streets and are tucked under bridges.
The epicenter of last Monday's quake is just 60 miles east. Today it seems as if this city is the epicenter for stories of human tragedy. They are countless and moving, and many come from young people like Xiong Fujun.
Xiong Fujun is 14 years old and hails from the Ren jia ping village of Beichuan County. When the quake struck, he was sitting in seventh-grade history class. His teacher led the class out onto the playground. Xiong Fujun saw the building next to his school collapse. Then he looked back, and saw that his school was gone as well.
Xiong Fujun was one of 1,000 students who waited on the playground overnight to be rescued. A thousand more are buried under the school, and all are believed to be dead. One of them is his older brother.
Xiong Fujun and the other survivors were bussed to Jiuzhou stadium, where his parents found him after frantically searching a list of survivors.
With his home and village destroyed, he has no idea what the future will hold. "Here I don't get enough to eat and I'm always tired," he explained. "I need to find a school to continue my studies."
Some children at Jiuzhou were already going back to class. A temporary school housed in two enormous white tents opened today. It's quickly become a place of healing and recovery. On one wall in the elementary-school tent hung oversized sheets of white paper decorated with colorful post-its and drawings in magic marker. The wall is part of a "psychological assistance" program. Children are encouraged to write what they feel on post-its and press them to the wall.
The tone of the messages varies widely: "Smile and everything will be alright again" to "I hope this is all a nightmare and I can return to my Beichuan, to my home."
Young people in Jiuzhou and across Sichuan Province are just beginning the long journey back to normal childhoods. With play spaces and psychosocial assistance, Mercy Corps hopes to support them get there.