June 14th, 2024

Roving Gyms remain popular in winter months

By Ry Clarke - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on November 4, 2022.

Three-year-old Kadyn Learn chases a hula-hoop around the field during Lethbridge Sports Council's Roving Gym Thursday at the Servus Sports Centre. Herald photo by Ry Clarke

Winter weather brings colder conditions and limited chances for kids to get out of the house and play.

The Lethbridge Sport Council’s Roving Gyms have migrated indoors to the Immanuel Lutheran Church and Servus Sports Centre bringing play opportunities to families in the area without the need to bundle up and check for frost bite.

“Our biggest location is the Servus Sports Centre,” said Shawn Daye-Finley, program coordinator with the Council. “We play on a turf field, it is loose parts free play here with Roving Gyms. The idea is to play with a purpose. Working on fundamental movement skills to increase physical literacy in our community.”

Looking to make play a year-round opportunity, the Roving Gym’s indoor events are hosted twice weekly.

“We have one in the evening (Immanuel Lutheran Church, 20 Rocky Mountain Blvd W, Tuesdays from 6 to 7 p.m.) and one in the morning (Servus Sports Centre, 2501 28 Ave S, Thursdays from 10 to 11 a.m.). We are going to keep that schedule for a bit because we have noticed it is working well with people coming out. We have had around 74 people come to our roving gym at the Sports Centre during the day,” said Daye-Finley. “Another thing that we have noticed lately is a lot of dads have been coming out to play with their kids, which is great ’cause kids play pretty hard when dad’s around.”

For the parents, the opportunity is a great chance to get out of the house and help younger kids with socializing.

“It is important to socialize not only as adults, but children. I realized during COVID that COVID-babies are very shy,” said Katie Learn, mother of three-year-old Kadyn. “Socializing children, especially ones like ours who are not in the school age yet, this is one of the only times we actually get together with other kids, along with playdates with our friends. Having things like this is great, we have met a lot of awesome kids and parents through the gym.”

“It is really important,” said Jennifer Dalton, mother of five-year-old Grace. “Especially coming out of the pandemic, the kids need the connections wherever they can get it. This is my first time but it is awesome. She (Grace) has already made connections and she is really outgoing.”

With winter comes less outdoor opportunities to get out and go wild while staying warm. With the Roving Gyms staying open indoors the chance for families to get kids involved in sports and play are more accessible.

“Its about those fundamental skills of balance, throw, catch, and jump. A kid who can throw and catch is going to have an advantage when they are older and joining baseball or other programs with those skills,” said Daye-Finley. “They are more likely to enjoy it, stick with it, and it can help them with being active and healthy for the rest of their life.”

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