By Alex Wilks/Now-Leader contributor
The City of Surrey has provided seven parks with big boxes stocked with sports equipment and games for the summer.
“The whole point of the initiative is to get people active, get people moving,” explains Community Services Coordinator, Erin Balmer.
In collaboration with the Fraser Health Authority and SCOPE BC, Live 5210 Playboxes have been placed strategically in different parks across the city — Holly Park, Bridgeview Community Centre, Starr Park, Maple Green Park, Bakerview Park, T.E. Scott Park and Panorama Village Park.
“The original idea actually came from an organization called SCOPE and it came from the Live 5210 initiative that we kind of adopted through our Healthy Communities Partnership,” said Balmer. “We received funding through Fraser Health…and the City of Surrey took the lead.”
Each box contains a variety of items and equipment including basketballs, soccer balls, skipping ropes, sidewalk chalk, Frisbees, hula hoops and playground balls; however the items available will change with the season, she adds.
Sponsors included VOLO Athletics, KMS Tools, Big Kahuna Sport Company and The Surrey Firefighters Charitable Society which contributed in supplying sports equipment, locks and the tool boxes.
“Playboxes can be different everywhere,” said Balmer. “We didn’t want the Playboxes to be one set standard. In some locations we have sand toys and we have other play equipment that is more appropriate to more passive parks.”
Access to the boxes launched in March and more than 250 families have already put the equipment to good use.
“It’s all about sharing,” Balmer said. “Some parks have been really busy. We have one Starr Park in Cloverdale, super busy, so usually it’s left open the entire afternoon and families are just using the equipment. Families are even putting their own stuff inside the boxes which is totally awesome.”
“Some families have really taken ownership of it and they just leave it open and hold each other accountable.”
The City Parks Department maintains and cleans the boxes weekly in order to make sure that items being put back into the boxes are safe for the community.
“What I love about it is when you look at Facebook and you look at the social media people are super excited about it. They are now telling other municipalities and other parks boards and other provinces to take on the initiative,” adds Balmer.
Anyone is able to register for free access to the Playbox by emailing a request to firstname.lastname@example.org, registering at a local recreation centre or by calling the call centre at (604) 501-5100. Once the request is confirmed a code is given to unlock the box, which is accessible from dawn to dusk.