June 7, 2016 - Be on the lookout for a “play box” at a park near you. Community Play Boxes — full of toys and sports equipment, such as hula hoops, soccer balls and baseball gloves and bats — will be available this summer at 15 parks and community centres throughout Thunder Bay, courtesy of the Healthy Kids Community Challenge Thunder Bay. These boxes will encourage kids to be active as part of Healthy Kids Community Challenge’s Run. Jump. Play. Every Day. initiative.
The Community Play Boxes are filled with items appropriate for children of all ages, are free to use and are located in easy-to-access spots in each park or centre. In order to open a box, participants will need to visit http://www.healthykidstbay.com/playboxes/. There they will be able to sign up to get an email with a combination number for the lock on that box. The items in each box will encourage kids to get back to basics and engage in unstructured play in their neighbourhood park or recreation facility.
“We want parks and local outdoor spaces to be filled with smiling kids playing soccer, sardines and hula hooping after school or supper,” says Marianne Stewart, Healthy Kids Community Challenge Coordinator. “By bringing the Community Play Box to recreation areas, we’ve addressed the challenges of not having equipment and of transporting kids to activities, which have been obstacles for families to participate in physical activity.”
Healthy Kids Community Challenge Thunder Bay has partnered with the Community Arts and Heritage Project (CAHEP) to get the help of neighbourhood kids in decorating eight of the boxes. These boxes will then become City of Thunder Bay public art installations. This neighbourhood involvement will instill community pride in the boxes and prevent vandalism. A sponsorship agreement with Canadian Tire is also in place to provide replacement equipment for lost equipment or toys, twice per year until 2019.
For more information about Healthy Kids Community Challenge projects and events, visit healthykidstbay.ca. To get involved in the Healthy Kids Community Challenge please contact the Healthy Kids Community Challenge Coordinator at 625-5962.