June 20th, 2024

Family Play Event getting kids active and creative outdoors


By Dale Woodard on August 5, 2021.

Herald photo by Dale Woodard - Nine-year-old Bella Reron and her cousin two-year-old Zach Dere do some water spray painting at the Outdoor Family Play Event Wednesday afternoon at Chinook Lake Park.

The Outdoor Family Play Event has been getting children active and creative outdoors while connecting families with essential services and programs.
And since the program started last month, hundreds of children and parents alike come come out for the two-day-a-week event at four locations across the city.
On Wednesday afternoon, the families were out for a little fun again, this time at Chinook Lake Park on the north side for an afternoon of arts.
“We’ve been amazed, we’ve had 100 families every day,” said Vicki Hazelwood, coodinator for Building Brains Together at the University of Lethbridge, who has worked in conjunction with the Lethbridge Public Library, Family Centre, Lethbridge School Division and the Holy Spirit School Division to put on the Outdoor Family Play Event. “The numbers have been incredible. In July alone we saw over 1,000 children and parents just in those four weeks. We’re all working together to provide fun play opportunities for the kids. Each week has a different theme and this week happens to be art. So we’re providing some take-home art crafts and some on-site experiences as well.”
The Outdoor Family Play Event will head into its final week next week when the activities head to the west side at Coalbanks Elementary School on Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Building For Brains had been going around the city with their tent for about three years, said Hazelwood.
“Last year we invited the other organizations to partner with us. They also wanted to get out into the community, (but) with COVID it was difficult to connect with families. So we felt this was a safe, healthy way to do that, being able to safe distance and be outside.”
Last summer, the Outdoor Family Play Event went so well the organizations teamed up again this summer.
“Its actually been way better-attended this year, which we didn’t expect,” said Hazelwood. “We thought maybe people would be on vacation.
“I think our collective organizations and agencies want to let families know about our services and programs and also connect them to other services and programs in the city. So this is an avenue in which we can engage in conversation with parents and let them know what services are available to them if there is something they’re looking for for their children.”
Just as importantly, the program gets children active and interactive.
“We know at Building For Brains that play builds brains and the play builds that strong foundation so they can have future learning and mental, social and physical help,” said Hazelwood. “So it’s really important we get kids playing.”
The themes over the past month have run the gamut from music, nature, movement and art on Wednesday as children took advantage of a little water painting as well as other activities.
Next week’s theme at Coalbanks Elementary School will be connection and resilience.
Hazelwood said the hope is to continue Outdoor Family Play Event next summer.
“The City of Lethbridge has generously helped fund us with the Community Event Grant. All of our partners are working together to use that grant to buy a number of the supplies so we can provide everything for free. So we appreciate the City and we’ll see how the funding works and if we can continue this summer, but we sure hope so.”

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