Play Makes For a Better Day

Parks are an essential part of our life. They are an area of beauty, help us stay fit, and allow us to think and learn. They are there for us to put down our phones and breathe.

Growing up I remember at racing out of the school at recess to secure my favourite spot in the school park. I remember pushing myself to the limit on those monkey bars and eventually having gravity remind me exactly where that line was, and falling – no anxiety – just pure joy, adrenaline, and being lost in play.

As I became a teenager, those parks became those special places. Walking together with people I cared about or sitting alone on a bench where I contemplated life and wondered about many things.

When I became a dad, I remember my wife and I took our kids, stroller in tow, to a local park to engage the little ones in hours of horseplay, pushing them on the merry-go-round until either their screech was my signal to throttle back, or I fell over winded and dizzy. It was often a place of reflection, of giving thanks and even worrying about what lays ahead for my kids in life. A place where likeminded people met regularly, coffee in hand, sometimes saying nothing but watching the joy of our kids playing. I know many of you are reading this can relate and recall your own fond memories.

Fred Rogers used to say that “Play is often talked about as if it were a relief from serious learning. But for children, play is serious learning. Play is the work of childhood.” Many of you would be surprised to learn that every year between 500 to 600 children find help at our Children and Adolescent Mental Health inpatient unit, on the Health Science Centre Complex. Children from as young as ten years of age up to 17 are admitted to the 14-bed unit with a range of acute mental health concerns such as depression, anxiety disorders, psychosis, and suicide attempts or ideation.

While in this unit for sometimes days or months, there is play space available but it’s empty, ugly, and slightly depressing. Through our researchers, we learn that play and fitness teach our children coping skills. In the time that our children need us most– there is no proper outdoor or indoor space to help them. So, doesn’t it make sense to build these kids a park?

It’s widely accepted that play and exercise is the elixir to improving health. And for kids, it’s a magic for creating a better outlook on life, perhaps even needed to save one.
The fantastic staff here have come up with a plan, and with your help, we can make it work.

We are going to try hard to raise the $300,000 to make it happen. Please join me in this critical effort, help share your ideas, and let’s get these kids back to the childhood they deserve.

Please feel free to e-mail me at sgrande@hsc.mb.ca or call me at 204-787-4061.

Donate now towards a new play space.