Calgary ‘junk’ playground promotes creative, risk-taking play

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WATCH ABOVE: The City of Calgary has created new play areas for summer 2017 that encourage risk-taking and getting dirty. As Carolyn Kury de Castillo reports, they are already kid-approved – Jul 4, 2017

It’s a playground filled with sand, water, a fort and an upside-down canoe. The new playground that opened just in time for Canada Day 2017 is designed to get kids to challenge themselves outside. It’s part of a trend for children to assess risk for themselves.

“When they play and they design their own play, they develop competencies that we need them to have when they get older,” said Heather Cowie with the City of Calgary recreation department. “So they understand risk a little bit more and how to negotiate all of those things by themselves, as opposed to us as parents trying to figure that out for them.”

READ MORE: Tunnel graffiti art, creative playground unveiled at Calgary’s Confederation Park for Canada Day

The fort at the Confederation Park was inspired by an old fort that once stood in the same spot decades ago.

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“We found articles written by parks staff back from the 1960s that said we need to get away from these boring playgrounds and we need to bring in more adventure and challenge for children,” said Julie Guimond, with City of Calgary parks department.

“And here we are in 2017, we are looking at the exact same thing. So it wasn’t only replicating what some of the materials were, but it was even replicating some of the ideas of getting back to that challenging and creative play for kids.”

A new playground in Calgary is designed to get kids to challenge themselves outside. Carolyn Kury de Castillo / Global News

On Monday, the playground was packed with kids climbing on the canoe and sifting through the sand.

“I think it’s awesome,” said Lorna Backs, who was there with her children.

“It’s a great improvement from what was here. And I think the proof is that it’s full of kids today.”

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The city is also continuing with a unique playground project it started last year called the “Mobile Adventure Playground.”

It consists of an assortment of random bits and pieces ranging from an old bathtub, tires, rope, tubes and tools.

Part of the mobile adventure playground at Riley Park in Calgary on July 4, 2017. Carolyn Kury de Castillo / Global News

It was created with input from kids and from funding from the Lawson Foundation, which was concerned about recent reports showing that Canadian kids aren’t getting enough physical activity.

For the first week of July the mobile park, with its recycled stuff, is set up at Riley Park. It was filled with children of all ages rummaging through the random pieces on Monday.

“I think it’s great for kids to be able to use their imaginations—to do something totally different,” said Sharon Doig, who was at Riley Park with her grandchildren.

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The collection of creative play pieces will travel to various city parks throughout the summer.

“Children are competent and they know what they want to do and we don’t have to hover over top of them,” Cowie said.

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