Canstar Community News - ONLINE EDITION
Tradeshow for parents to help kids play
While most parents are packing away their children’s toys at 9 p.m. on a Tuesday night, Alison McLean is setting up for another day of playtime.
"I prepare crafts for about 50 kids per day," said McLean, who started the Ride and Play program at Earl Grey Community Centre four years ago. "When [my boys] were little I was desperate to do things that involved both of them, I knew I couldn’t be the only one."
Ride and Play is a year-round program in which caregivers can bring children up to five-years-old on a drop-in basis to the program at a cost of $2 per child (infants under 6 months are free with a sibling).
Ride and Play offers over a dozen different "rides" including tricycles and scooters and play areas like the building station and indoor bouncer.
"I believe in free play. Children have the rest of their lives to be scheduled," McLean said.
But free play doesn’t come cheap. And Ride and Play wants to raise money for a new bouncer at its second annual RIDE’N’PALOOZA — a tradeshow for home businesses combined with open Ride and Play activities for kids.
"We’ve placed the vendors so that parents can shop while the kids play," said McLean.
The event will take place Fri., Nov. 25 at Earl Grey Community Centre, located at 360 Cockburn St., from 6 to 9 p.m. Visitors will be able to check out everything from physiotherapy and skincare to jewellery and superhero capes.
"We have a mom who makes superhero capes," said McLean, holding up a shiny golden cape. Vendors like Super Me Cape Design are also running advance sales promotions to support the program. For all capes sold before RIDE’N’PALOOZA, $5 will be donated to Ride and Play.
"Funding for our program is dwindling, even though there are more children participating," said McLean, who will be raffling off the current bouncer that is "still good for single-family use" at the event.
While Ride and Play does receive some funding, it covers what McLean calls "the basics" — crafts, wipes, and coffee.
With an average of 40 children per morning, and less attending in the afternoon, toys and rides become quickly overused — and replacement becomes unaffordable.
"Without events, we’d have to charge more for our program," said Sue-Ann Campbell, manager at Earl Grey Community Centre, who like McLean, wants to keep the program affordable. "There’s such a great atmosphere to it."
There are still tables available at the event. For more information go to www.rideandplay.ca.
More The Sou'wester
More The Sou'wester
(1 of 14 articles for this week)05/15/2013 1:00 AM 0
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