The Town of Kentville’s quest to become Canada’s most playful community is going so well that it’s received a national stamp of approval.
The town’s parks and recreation department program Kentville Plays! has been listed as a recognized community recreation program on the Canadian Public Health Association website’s ‘Promising Practices’ section.
Kentville Active Living community co-ordinator Julia Stephenson has worked at the program alongside recreation director Rachel Bedingfield and says this recognition is exciting because it shows that the program is at the national standard of best practices.
“It’s really neat to see us among landscape of what’s happening across the country,” says Stephenson.
CPHA has specifically recognized the Kentville Playboxes, Kentville Loose Parts Baby Barn and Trailblazers After School programs, which were brought under the Kentville Plays! umbrella in November 2017.
The program was created to make the act of playing more accessible to Kentville residents, and Stephenson says it’s proven to have done just that, with the town seeing a jump in the number of kids and parents or guardians taking part since the program’s 2017 start.
She says hard numbers on just how many are participating will be arriving soon. The town is working with Dalhousie masters-level students to create a magnetic system to count how many times each box’s lid is opened to gauge the direct impact the program is having.
“It will help us better understand how effective these play boxes are. We hear stories, for sure, but seeing real numbers on it working will pull everything together,” she says.
Stephenson says the program would have never succeeded without the crucial buy-in of Kentville residents, who she says have demonstrated how keen they are by partaking.
This continued support means the rec department will keep pushing the envelope to make sure Kentville has plenty of ways to get playful.
“Not every community has that reputation – of recreation. It’s what allows to keep doing these great things, but also keeps us on our toes,” she says.