A pilot project in Red Deer is aiming to have children rediscover local parks and amenities while making new friends and playing outdoors.
Activ Kidz Playground Program is now in its third week of six through July and August.
“This summer is about testing the concept and seeing if the community is interested in this type of programming,” said Neighbourhood Community Development Coordinator Pauline Mousseau.
Funding this year came from the Provincial Healthy/Active Living Initiatives Grant and Mousseau said if the program were to continue funding would have to be secured in other ways.
“Our motivations are to have children make new friends with kids who live near by and have an active experience learning new and playing familiar sports, expressing themselves creatively and exploring the natural environment.”
Mousseau said one thing that they aimed to add in to the program was to have children learn more about their community including meeting local emergency services workers and Neighbourhood Watch members.
“We’re hopeful that the children will develop a greater connection and sense of belonging to their community and become stewards in their neighbourhoods.”
A typical day in the program combines structured and unstructured play featuring numerous physical opportunities from sport discovery to active transportation like walking and biking.
“It also includes creative arts and learning about the natural world around them. Feedback from parents so far suggests that the kids sleep well after a day of being at Activ Kidz.”
The cost to take part in the program is just $5 per day or $25 per week. Parents or guardians can pre-register online or there are 10 spaces saved daily for drop in registrants.
For the pilot, six locations were chosen where one week would be spent at a time. Each location selected offers numerous program opportunities nearby from trails to sports fields and playgrounds.
With a name like ‘Activ Kidz’ Mousseau said part of the goal is to get children moving.
“All statistics show that children can lead fairly inactive lives. Activ Kidz provides at minimum 60 cumulative minutes of activity or more every day. Our hope is to inspire children to play outside and reclaim their neighbourhoods as places to explore and be active.”
A number of community partners have been imperative to the development of the program including Be Fit for Life Centre, Kerry Wood Nature Centre, Central Alberta Refugee Effort, Red Deer Arts Council, Red Deer Sports Council, Arts a la Carte, Neighbourhood Watch, RCMP, and several others who have visited the program on site.
For more information or to get registered visit www.reddeer.ca/activkidz.