A quest for $100,000 from the Aviva Community Fund is child’s play for Kamloops Child Development Society.
The society, which operates a child-development centre on Holway Street on the North Shore, has joined the national not-for-profit competition for a second year in hope of building “nature’s own playground.”
“We entered last year as well, but this year we’ve changed it up,” said Mackenzie McLaren, an early childhood educator at the centre.
The society’s project has progressed to the semifinals and it hopes the community will rally behind the project by casting more votes online. The second of three qualifying rounds starts today at avivacommunityfund.org. People can vote as often as daily for their preferred project.
A video submission is posted on the Aviva fund website.
The fund is an annual competition held across Canada in which several winning ideas share in a $1-million prize. Kamloops United Church’s PIT (People In Transition) program was among last year’s winners, helping it to revamp its community food kitchen.
McLaren said the society’s project envisions a playground at the centre that would feature trees, grass, flowers and ponds rather than conventional, manufactured equipment such as jungle gyms, slides and roundabouts.
“My generation growing up, if you asked for our favourite memory, it would be playing outside in the sand, the dirt, the mud or the trees,” she said. “Nowadays if you ask children, it’s more electronics,” such as video games.
The society wants to create a playground where it can help to fill the deficit in children’s play amid natural surroundings. It also wants to level the playfield for children with disabilities.
“We want to get rid of the mass-produced plastic and old-wood playground equipment that was built in the early 1990s and make it more of an all-access activity area,” McLaren said. “We are an inclusive child-care centre.”
Its concerns reflect a growing body of research suggesting that nature play contributes to children’s social, emotional, intellectual and physical well-being. In his 2005 book, Last Child in the Woods, author Richard Louv argues that the allure of the screen and parental fears have created a nature deficit disorder in kids.
Westsyde is entered in the same competition, seeking up to $50,000 for a water park, while Clearwater hopes for $125,000 for a park dedicated to the memory of Skye and Courtney Buck.
In the least, Kamloops Child Development Centre wants to raise its community profile, McLaren said.