In the first mobile Adventure Playground event in Red Deer, kids had the opportunity to get their hands dirty, using their imagination to build, learn and play with various donated material.
Adventure Playgrounds, modelled after similar projects in Calgary and around the world are supervised spaces where youth are encouraged to get dirty, use manual tools and foster imaginative play with the items at hand.
“It’s a one day event. We bring everything from cardboard to used plumbing pieces to lots of duct tape,” said Doug Evans, parks and open space designer with the City of Red Deer.
He said it’s a build up, tear down type of playground. Other materials onsite includes big tires, wood pieces and things one wouldn’t have a clue where they came from.
Youth HQ and Kerry Wood Nature Centre partnered together to put on the playground event, held June 30th at Kerry Wood Nature Centre in the Nova Chemicals Imagination Grover.
Evans said it’s a place where kids can get a sense of getting out and getting back to that creative play.
“There’s no restrictions, there’s no rules. There’s some safety issues that we deal with of course, but it’s just to say, ‘Kids, go out an build whatever you want to build,’” he said.
Youth HQ and Nature Centre staff and volunteers were on hand to supervise and engage with youth throughout the day, and Evans said a lot of the stuff that was built was done so by the kids.
“We just assist the kids and let the kids do whatever they want to do.”
And the benefits of this type of playground, he said, are huge.
“To me, it’s getting out and getting away from being in front of electronics. To me it’s getting back to traditional creative play.”
He said it’s about kids taking objects or materials and using their imagination to build anything they want to build.
“There’s no rules of how to build it.”
One example was a bunch of cardboard shuttles the kids built, having even put in some pip to reinforce the boxes.
All recycled materials were donated from various companies throughout Red Deer, which included cardboard, recycled plastics, wood, tools and renovation supplies.
Also helping out with the event was the City of Red Deer and Youth HQ’s affiliates, Boys and Girls Club of Red Deer & District and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Red Deer and District.
Evans said they are looking at getting further partnership, and hope to talk with Red Deer College, the Catholic School Board as well as the Public School Board.
With their first event of the pilot project under their belt, the crew is hoping to do two more events this year; one in August and the other in September.
“Being a pilot project, we want to have the event hosted in a couple different locations. The next one being in a neighbourhood park and then a school facility,” said Evans.
He said next year they are hoping for it to go mainstream as part of the Youth HQ Active Kids Program.