Grandpa’s backyard a family hub

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This article was published 15/01/2022 (387 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

While Arvid Loewen is best known for summer pursuits that benefit African children, he also spends his winters blessing youngsters much closer to home.
For many years Loewen has cycled thousands of kilometres each summer, setting several Guinness world records in the process. He and his bicycle have raised more than $8 million for Mully Children’s family, a street rescue mission in Kenya. In one year alone his goal was to raise enough money to provide 600,000 meals to children. 
Since being introduced to the cause many years ago, Loewen said he was compelled to help. The physical suffering he endured each year was secondary to blessing children whose suffering was far worse.
While Loewen has likely engaged in his last super-long cycling event, he is still keeping busy finding ways to help his 11 grandchildren burn off some energy. When winter hits, his grandkids and their friends flock to what he calls the Loewen Winterplex, a recreation centre located in his backyard.
“We are fortunate to live in the city, but on a deep lot, 52 feet by  229 feet,” Loewen said. “Since our kids were children, our backyard has been a children’s paradise.”
Just like Loewen’s summer bike rides, the Winterplex is no small affair. The rink is 2,600 square feet and there is also an ice luge to enjoy. In the summer he offers zip lining, volleyball courts, soccer and a climbing wall.
The fun began when Loewen’s children were small, around a quarter century ago. After a few years’ break as those children started their own families, the backyard is bustling again as those 11 grandkids and their friends flock to the Winterplex. Loewen estimates he gets between 300 and 500 visits every winter.
But there’s no free lunch. Each fall there’s a family work day when the rink boards and other materials are brought out. In the spring, the crew comes back to take down the winter gear and set up for warmer weather.
There are some incentives, both for setting up and as a break from the fun. Grandma Ruth Loewen is noted for her chocolate chip cookies, and when a crowd is expected a fresh batch goes in the oven.
“There is not a single child I know of who doesn’t like chocolate chip cookies,” Loewen said.
Loewen said he loves having the children over and the more, the merrier. When they want to have a game, some of his children and their spouses send out an email blast with the date and time. Usually a good crowd shows up, with the kids playing and the parents staying warm by a bonfire. Some times they even have a wiener roast.
“We’re giving these kids an alternative to the video games inside and that’s a big deal,” Loewen said. “We’re the grandparents with the cool backyard.”
Tony Zerucha is a community correspondent for East Kildonan. Email him at tzerucha@gmail.com

While Arvid Loewen is best known for summer pursuits that benefit African children, he also spends his winters blessing youngsters much closer to home.

For many years Loewen has cycled thousands of kilometres each summer, setting several Guinness world records in the process. He and his bicycle have raised more than $8 million for Mully Children’s family, a street rescue mission in Kenya. In one year alone his goal was to raise enough money to provide 600,000 meals to children. 

Supplied photo Arvid Loewen's grandchildren and their friends often enjoy hours of pick-up hockey at the 'Loewen Winterplex'.

Since being introduced to the cause many years ago, Loewen said he was compelled to help. The physical suffering he endured each year was secondary to blessing children whose suffering was far worse.

While Loewen has likely engaged in his last super-long cycling event, he is still keeping busy finding ways to help his 11 grandchildren burn off some energy. When winter hits, his grandkids and their friends flock to what he calls the Loewen Winterplex, a recreation centre located in his backyard.

“We are fortunate to live in the city, but on a deep lot, 52 feet by  229 feet,” Loewen said. “Since our kids were children, our backyard has been a children’s paradise.”

Just like Loewen’s summer bike rides, the Winterplex is no small affair. The rink is 2,600 square feet and there is also an ice luge to enjoy. In the summer he offers zip lining, volleyball courts, soccer and a climbing wall.

The fun began when Loewen’s children were small, around a quarter century ago. After a few years’ break as those children started their own families, the backyard is bustling again as those 11 grandkids and their friends flock to the Winterplex. Loewen estimates he gets between 300 and 500 visits every winter.

But there’s no free lunch. Each fall there’s a family work day when the rink boards and other materials are brought out. In the spring, the crew comes back to take down the winter gear and set up for warmer weather.

There are some incentives, both for setting up and as a break from the fun. Grandma Ruth Loewen is noted for her chocolate chip cookies, and when a crowd is expected a fresh batch goes in the oven.

“There is not a single child I know of who doesn’t like chocolate chip cookies,” Loewen said.

Loewen said he loves having the children over and the more, the merrier. When they want to have a game, some of his children and their spouses send out an email blast with the date and time. Usually a good crowd shows up, with the kids playing and the parents staying warm by a bonfire. Some times they even have a wiener roast.

“We’re giving these kids an alternative to the video games inside and that’s a big deal,” Loewen said. “We’re the grandparents with the cool backyard.”

Tony Zerucha is a community correspondent for East Kildonan. Email him at tzerucha@gmail.com

Tony Zerucha

Tony Zerucha
East Kildonan community correspondent

Tony Zerucha is a community correspondent for East Kildonan. Email him at tzerucha@gmail.com

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