In March of 2020, with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic hitting our Province, many communities saw a dramatic shift of day to day life and their recreational activities moved toward a “cease and desist” status to support quarantine life.
The City of Melfort and their Community Services Team saw the challenges presented by COVID-19 as an opportunity to expand their already existing Summer Recreation Program and created the Community Ambassador Program. ”Recreation is needed now more than ever!” said Shannon Marshall, Pool Manager and Recreation Programmer for the City of Melfort.
The City’s goal was to provide 8 weeks of programs for children and youth. They expanded their parameters and reached a greater target market in the community that included families, adults, older adults and seniors. The City engaged people from the end of March until the end of August and had no plans of slowing down.
Throughout March and April, their focus was online engagement and providing some light entertainment as news about COVID-19 overtook the media. These self-directed activities included Community Hero Bingo, Hopscotch (throughout the City), and the Stronger Together Quilt Draw, to name only a few. When the Re-Open Saskatchewan guidelines started to open up more services in May, the Community Services Team created interactive outdoor activities that were creative, easy to organize, encouraged physical activity, and ran at a low-to-no-cost for participants. Play Kits were introduced as the weather warmed up. Each kit included different recreation equipment, physical literacy tools, and game ideas. All of the kits were thoroughly disinfected before and after each use.
When the gathering size capacity increased to 15 people in June, the Community Services Team did not fail to deliver. Their programming shifted to small, physically distanced group activities. This led to the creation of the Fairy Forest Subdivision and Creative Circle at Spruce Haven Park. Groups came together to paint Fairy Doors, carve faces into trees, and develop Gnome Homes out of unsightly tree stumps. Rotary Park was also used to host Yoga in the Park with two instructors, Roxanne Danberg and Taryn Mcdonald, each instructing classes for 10 participants.
Kicking off the summer we had Moose on the Loose in July, which was a great interactive game played within the City, and an 8-week summer program for children and youth, which brought through a total of 744 participants. The program was led by young adults who have been trained in HIGH FIVETM Principles of Healthy Childhood Development to ensure quality programming and tangible benefits for participants. All crafts, games, activities and sports for these programs were designed for physical distancing and encouraged physical activity. Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting was performed at each facility. The planning didn’t stop there; a wide demographic of community members were engaged through many more recreation activities. Some examples included Drive-in Fireworks for Canada Day, Family Fun and Games at Spruce Haven, Disc Golf Learn to Play at Rotary Park, the Amazing Race and so much more.
We at the Lakeland District for Sport, Culture and Recreation congratulate the City of Melfort and their Community Services Team on persevering and leading the way through such complicated and troubled times. Thank you for building healthy, active and creative lifestyles through sport, culture and recreation.
About the Author
Helen Obrigewitch is one of two Community Consultants with the Lakeland District for Sport, Culture and Recreation, located in Naicam, Sask.
Community Consultants are available to meet with your community, board, volunteers and/or recreation staff to discuss local sport, culture and recreation issues; identify local needs; assist in creating strategies to address community needs; assist in planning and program development. Please visit lakelanddistrict.ca for more information and to connect with a Community Consultant.