Play in the Park benefits youth of all ages

Teen leaders also gain valuable experiences

The City of Wetaskiwin’s Play in the Park program is always filled with summer fun activities for young children up to age 12.

The summer program saw its last session on Aug. 24 at the 47th Street Toddler Park.

Supported by the Mental Health Capacity Building Program at Wetaskiwin Regional Public Schools (WRPS) and the City of Wetaskiwin, the program focuses on engaging youth in sports play, fun challenges, large-scale board games, drama, arts and crafts, as well as other imaginative activities.

While there is no rigid educational component, says WRPS wellness support worker Whitney Fox, the Play in the Park program provides its share of developmental benefits to those who partake.

Fox explains, while getting the children out into the fresh air, it also helps stimulate their sensory skills, creativity, socialization and provides wellness benefits.

“It all looks like fun and games on the outside,” said Fox.

The program also runs under a free of charge, drop-in model.

Fox says the openness of the program provides different socialization than what a school can, and allows children to easily interact with those of vastly different age groups.

“We always have a mix,” said city recreational department member Rachel Rarick. “Lots of socialization.”

One of the parents who often brings her sons to Play in the Park, Ashley Anderson, also enjoys having them in the fresh air to burn off energy and play with the other children.

Anderson says her family has come to Play in the Park the last couple of years and has seen the program grow. “There’s more activities for the kids.”

She says the program has also helped her children learn independence skills.

The parents and the young children are not the only ones Play in the Park benefits.

“Our program actually has two parts,” said Fox.

Teen leaders from grades 6 to 12 can volunteer with the program to gain leadership and volunteer experience.

“It’s for out Leaders in Training program,” said Fox.

amelia.naismith@pipestoneflyer.ca