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Calgary tests mobile adventure playgrounds

The City of Calgary is trying to get kids to play differently, and this summer adventure playgrounds are on the menu

The City of Calgary is joining the ranks of those like play:ground in New York city where a robust army of adventure playgrounds have been launched.

Credit/ play:ground nyc

The City of Calgary is joining the ranks of those like play:ground in New York city where a robust army of adventure playgrounds have been launched.

It’s a playground that can pack up and go – and it could be sliding to a park near you.

The City of Calgary is getting ready to launch what they call their “mobile adventure playground” pilot. And just as it sounds, and looks, it’s definitely not your average playdate in the park.

Popularized in European countries like Denmark, the adventure playground model has long been an alternative for kids to build their own play. Typically the experience is built from bits and pieces children can build into their own imaginative world.

“They’re more about kids to be interactive, to be able to manipulate their environment,” said Julie Guimond, the leader of environmental education for Calgary parks. “It’s very much about the materials that we bring that they can then mould and build their own playground out of them.”

The playground will be touring North Glenmore Park, Canyon Meadows, Canmore Park, Riley Park and Forest Lawn rotating on a weekly basis from June 24 to October 1. It will also make cameo appearances at the city’s “Unplug ‘n Play” events as well as community play days.

To some, the cardboard, tape and tires may look like a junk-yard, and it’s definitely not the average playground; this mobile experience comes with staffed supervisors who help kids out with play.

This isn’t all about having fun, the pilot is looking into some serious results to see if these types of play ideas are feasible for Calgary.

“We’re going to evaluate the difference between putting these in regional parks versus a community,” Guimond said. She noted parents and kids who are involved, as well as those not, will be polled about the benefits and pitfalls of the program. “We want to see how many kids come, how long the kids play, how do we evaluate how intense the play is, and how valuable that play is.”

Dana Wheatley of the blog Calgary Playground Review, said it’s a very exciting project she’s looking forward to checking out this summer.

“Traditional playgrounds have a lot to offer but one of the things they really lack is the ability for loose parts play,” said Wheatley.

“Loose parts provide opportunities for kids to be really creative with their play by modifying and changing the play space.”

The city received a $160,000 grant to fund this project from the Foundation to conduct research.

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