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Help create a new play space for the Okanagan

Help create a new play space for the Okanagan

New Monaco developer helps fund one-of-a kind playground

Photo: flickr

Okanagan families have a chance to spend a fun morning in the park and inform a research project guiding the creation of a new play space unlike any other in the Okanagan.

Okanagan College researchers are offering families the chance to express their creativity and engage their sense of wonder. Children will have the opportunity to discover and explore playing with loose parts – a trending concept in the world of unstructured outdoor play. The $91,000 research project is funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and neighbourhood developer New Monaco.

Families are invited to join in the fun at the Peachland Heritage Park and Pavilion on Beach Avenue on Saturday Oct. 28, from 10 – 11:30 a.m.

Photo: flickr

“Research tells us that when children visit traditional play spaces, they spend about six minutes on the play equipment,” says Dr. Beverlie Dietze, Director of Learning and Applied Research at Okanagan College. “They spend more time playing with the gravel and the items that are underneath the play apparatus.

“With a natural play space, children will spend as much time as you allow them. There are options for them to pick up rocks and look at the bugs underneath. They can challenge themselves to balance on a tree stump or walk the length of a log. The play opportunities are absolutely open and expansive. When you add in man-made materials that we call loose-parts then all of those pieces require the child to do something, to actively engage in the play.”

Those types of play opportunities are precisely the kind Dietze hopes to gain feedback on through the workshops as part of a $91,000 research project. The goal is to support New Monaco in creating unique naturalized play spaces that fit children’s zest for curiosity, learning and development.

A potential spot for the unique park has been identified within the New Monaco master planned community currently being developed in Peachland.

“Our vision for the community is to be the healthiest place to live in Canada,” says Mark Holland, Partner, New Monaco. “We’re very excited to be actively involved in this project and learn how we can create a new type of play space that is innovative, supports healthy lifestyles for children and their families, and goes beyond what people expect to find in a traditional playground.

“New Monaco is committed to working with Peachland to attract more families to this great community and make it the best place to grow up in the Okanagan.”

But before it can ever be built, Dietze’s findings will first need to be translated into a design that can be brought to life in the New Monaco neighborhood. Enter Fiona Barton, Principal of Outland Design.

“Our company is focused on re-thinking the way in which play spaces are designed," she says. "It’s hard to imagine how the next generation will become stewards of the natural landscape if they haven’t actually spent time in it.”

Dietze hopes the project will serve as a model for public parks and play spaces in other areas.

“It would be wonderful to see what we learn with this project in the Okanagan inspire and help others create innovative play spaces across the country and around the world.”

The outdoor play opportunities are free but families are encouraged to register in advance by emailing outdoorplay@okanagan.bc.ca.

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