University ready for a day of play

The University of Lethbridge, together with 1st Choice Savings and Credit Union, is once again taking the opportunity to help the community engage in play.

After an enormously successful inaugural event, which drew thousands of children and parents, the U of L is readying to host its second annual – and free – Play Day event on Family Day (Monday, February 18). The circus-themed event runs from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the 1st Choice Savings Centre for Sport and Wellness, the Max Bell Regional Aquatic Centre and the Ascent Climbing Centre.

"Play Day is designed to reach out to the community, but on another level it's trying to communicate about the value of play for families," says University of Lethbridge President, Dr. Mike Mahon, who introduced Play Day at the University in 2012 to promote the positive aspects of play and its influence on creating healthy individuals and healthy communities. "The concept is really focused on families, not just on children – we are encouraging families to come and play together."

Play Day
Katie Mahon, daughter of University President Dr. Mike Mahon, assists in the construction zone at last year's inaugural Play Day event. This year's circus-themed party should be even bigger and better.

The circus theme of this year's event includes a number of new activities added to the popular play zones from the inaugural Play Day. Among the added activities is a Music Zone where drop-in Kindermusik classes and sound bingo will entertain children aged zero to 18 months, as well as a drop-in world drumming area. Carnival games have been added, as well as a Toonie Barbecue area and a Fitastic Play zone for toddler fitness. For those daring enough to scale the heights, the Ascent Climbing Centre's climbing wall will also be open to the public.

"We're excited to be a part of Play Day again this year, and I think it will be even bigger and better than last year's event," says Brian Kinahan (BMgt '79), president and CEO of major sponsor 1stChoice Savings. "As a community-minded organization, we're thrilled to partner with the University and present this opportunity for southern Alberta families to come together and enjoy the amenities here at the U of L 1st Choice Savings Centre for a day of play."

Last year, a massive cardboard construction zone was a hit with participants of all ages, and will be back this year, with even more space (and cardboard) to play with.

"It was so much fun to see parents and young kids playing together," says Mahon. "They were cutting shapes and playing make believe and the parents were playing as much as the kids were, and that was really cool to watch. That's the real sprit of Play Day and if we as a university can contribute to families by encouraging play, then we're doing a good thing."

Following is a list of free activities available at Play Day 2013

Science – Airzookas; Air Pressure Funnel; Science Toy Circus

Technology – Tri-flexa Hexagons; Scratch Programming; Mobius Strip

Art & Creative – Carnival Hats; Bubble Painting

Free Build – Cardboard Fort Building

Physical Activity – Basketball; Futsal; Open Gymnastics; Bouncy Castles; Fitastic Play; Climbing Wall

Aquatic – Open Swimming

Music – Drop-in Kindermusik; Sound Bingo; World Drumming

Carnival Games

Face Painting

Photo Booth