The 2014 CHIPS (Children’s Indoor Play Society) Winter Carnival was held on November 29th, 2014 in the Wetaskiwin Mall in the old Canadian Tire / Western RV space from noon till 4 pm. There were many squeals of excitement, laughing faces, wide eyes and looks of anticipation as children entered the new CHIPS home in Wetaskiwin Mall and saw the bouncy houses, games, face-painting, picnic tables, slides and other playground equipment.
In 2014, CHIPS made the move from the City of Wetaskiwin Drill Hall to the Wetaskiwin Mall because as President of CHIPS, Kathryn Weremey explains, “CHIPS has been in Wetaskiwin using the Drill Hall for 30 years. It seems that shortly after the Manluk Centre was built, we learned City Council would be raising our (CHIPS) fees for rental of the Drill Hall by $20/hour. This is an increase from $30 per hour to almost double at $50 per hour. Upon receiving this notification, I emailed our contact with the City to see if we could arrange a meeting to see if there was a way we could work together to help this thirty year old, non-profit children’s community program out with a good rate. With one missed email (as it was summer and a day notice) I missed out on an opportunity to meet and asked if we could set up another time which did not happen.”
CHIPS has a history of keeping fees affordable so all families can access the activities. “CHIPS is run on a very tight budget while at the same time is committed to keeping our program accessible to all members of the community. CHIPS is an affordable and accessible option for local families.”
It costs very little to drop in at only $5.00 a visit (to a maximum of fifteen visits). Membership is $65.00 per year for the first child to a maximum of $165.00 per family. CHIPS also offers a new option of $100 per child with no mandatory fundraising obligations.
“So having just completed a casino,” continues Weremey, “the treasurer and I thought CHIPS would be okay financially. But, when we got our first two invoices and noticed they were charging an extra $5/hour for weekends, we sat down and worked out what the rest of our year was going to look like. We noticed that if we stayed at the Drill Hall with these rates, we would be bankrupt by the middle of May and there would be no more CHIPS.”
CHIPS began the search for an alternative and affordable location. “I went to the Mall as they had offered us a spot two years prior and I asked if it was still available. They stated they would still love to have us come.” So following a lot of discussion, the Mall and the CHIPS Board are pleased to have signed an agreement to work together.
“I have to say, they have helped us out so much more in the last two weeks than the City of Wetaskiwin has helped us in years. (CHIPS noted they had built cupboards in a back room of the Drill Hall at their expense for storage of their toys and party/cleaning supplies). I am so grateful to the Wetaskiwin Mall and their hard work and willingness to help keep our Society running far into the future. This agreement will ensure many more children will have fun and be exposed to the social development opportunities that CHIPS provides. We as a CHIPS board cannot thank them enough.”
The Children’s Indoor Play Society is a non-profit organization created by Moms and Dads to give preschool kids a place to play and interact during the long winter months. It is run by a board of directors chosen by election from the general membership. As a registered, non-profit society, CHIPS funds its operations based on membership dues, fund raising activities, and donations from individuals and corporate sponsors.
CHIPS is a parent supervised playgroup. There are a variety of toys, bikes, slides, climbing blocks and parties. Children can move from one area to another freely. As one parent stated, “It is a safe, fun environment for burning off lots of kid energy.”
The new CHIPS location, Wetaskiwin Mall ( in the old Canadian Tire / Western RV space ) 3725 56 St., will be open Monday and Thursday Mornings from 9:30- 11:30am, September to May for children aged 0-5 years.
CHIPS also works in conjunction with other community groups to support their cause and promote a sense of unity among non-profit organizations. For example, CHIPS employs individuals from the Horizons Centre to help with setting up and dismantling of the equipment each day the program is offered. This provides these individuals with meaningful employment, a source of income and a sense of accomplishment.
CHIPS once again, in their true tradition, plans to give back to the community by participating in the Wetaskiwin Secret Santa Program. They also take collections for the Food Bank each year.
The 2013/2014 Board is as follows:
President – Kathryn Weremey
Vice President – Carmen Roberge
Secretary – Ashely McLean
Treasurer – Terrilynn Crawford
Toy Wash Co-ordinators – Sonya Fyfe and Kathleen Graville
Fundraiser Coordinator – Dominique Mah
Kids Sale Coordinator – Ashley Stinson
Casino Coordinator – Kathryn Weremey
Supply Coordinator – Laura Jackson
Advertising Coordinator – Kate Whenham
Party Coordinator – Chrissy Kerridge
Observing children enjoying a wide variety of activities and content looking parents, it is very evident that CHIPS is an organization that can be very proud of the service that it provides for the families of this community. For more information: (780) 362-2369.
Pictured: Trent Pashak excited with his new creation by balloon artist, Charles Taylor. Photo by Barry McDonald