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‘Letting families play together’: National Play Day event held in Kentville

Olly Paul, six, of Coldbrook, had a great time looking for frogs at the Frog Pond.
Olly Paul, six, of Coldbrook, had a great time looking for frogs at the Frog Pond. - Chris Saulnier

KENTVILLE, NS - There’s always time to play.

The Kentville Parks and Recreation Department hosted an evening of play for families and members of the community on National Play Day, Aug. 1. Five play stations were set up along the Harvest Moon Trail between the Kentville Memorial Pool and Kings County Academy for families and children of all ages to come together and play.

The play stations included the Playbox at the Kentville Memorial Pool, Splash Pad, Frog Pond, Skate Park, and the Loose Parts PlayPod.

Brothers Ephriam, left, and Ben Jagger, seven and five years old, of New Minas, are used to the unstructured play atmosphere at the Loose Parts PlayPod, as they regularly attend the Kentville Day Camp.
Brothers Ephriam, left, and Ben Jagger, seven and five years old, of New Minas, are used to the unstructured play atmosphere at the Loose Parts PlayPod, as they regularly attend the Kentville Day Camp.

 

“We’ve done a number of play events since we launched Kentville Plays in November 2017, but this this the first time we’re doing a National Play Day activity,” said Julia Stephenson, active living community coordinator with the Town of Kentville.

“This is the first time in a number of years that the Canadian branch of International Play Association has done a National Play Day, so today, there will be events taking place all across the country, so we wanted to do something to celebrate that day.”

A Town of Kentville facilitator at the Frog Pond shows a little girl a friendly little frog caught by another child earlier on.
A Town of Kentville facilitator at the Frog Pond shows a little girl a friendly little frog caught by another child earlier on.

 

Taking advantage of Kentville’s trails seemed a natural fit, she said.

“We thought it’d be really fun to engage families along the trail, where they could explore the trail and all these great places to play off of the trail,” she added.

Jadon MacDonald, three, of Coldbrook, climbing the rope structure at the playground near the Loose Parts PlayPod.
Jadon MacDonald, three, of Coldbrook, climbing the rope structure at the playground near the Loose Parts PlayPod.

 

Stephenson added that while play was the main goal of the event, the big focus was on unstructured free play.

“It’s really about unstructured free play, so not telling people how to play, or having an organized sport, but just letting families play together,” said Stephenson.

Jeanette Garrison, lleft, and her husband Chris, of Coldbrook, had a great time bringing their two children, Elijah and Isaac, three months and two years old, to the Kentville Plays event. They said the experience was very fun and interactive and that they’d definitely take part again.
Jeanette Garrison, lleft, and her husband Chris, of Coldbrook, had a great time bringing their two children, Elijah and Isaac, three months and two years old, to the Kentville Plays event. They said the experience was very fun and interactive and that they’d definitely take part again.

 

Katherine Waterbury, a day camp leader with the Town of Kentville, who was the facilitator at the Loose Parts PlayPod during the event, further explained the concept on unstructured play and how it’s used at the Kentville Day Camps.

“At Kentville Day Camps, we really promote, not just free play, but letting the kids decide their limits and their boundaries, so we never really say ‘don’t climb that tree’ - instead we encourage it and let them learn things like the highest height they can go, or if that branch is stable enough,” said Waterbury.

“Instead of telling them what not to do, we ask them what they think about the situation they’re in and if they should continue the action and go a little bit further, or if they should stop because it’s a bit dangerous. So, it allows for growth and development.”

Children enjoying the new Kentville skate park using the equipment which is regularly available for loan from the Kentville Recreation Hub.
Children enjoying the new Kentville skate park using the equipment which is regularly available for loan from the Kentville Recreation Hub.

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