Kinette Club of Smoky Lake Redevelopment Playground Project
Kinette clubs across the country work to better their communities, enhance the well-being of Canadians and improve the environment. The Association boasts a proud history dedicated to fostering life-long friendships while ‘Serving the Community’s Greatest Need’. The Smoky Lake Kinette Club has over 40 years of public service to the community of Smoky Lake. Previous projects that have enhanced well-being in Smoky Lake include the Kin Park pavilion, original playground (1992), and spray park as well as scholarship sponsorships and providing support to other community groups (e.g., dance, sports, social and health). We are part of a vibrant rural community and strive to continue and build and strengthen our community by providing opportunities to connect in a friendly, social environment.
The Kinette Club, with the support of the town and county, is raising funds to replace the 25-year-old playground in Kin Park with safe, accessible equipment and surfacing. The availability of playground equipment in Smoky Lake is limited to school facilities and one small park one kilometer away. Kin Park regularly attracts our neighbours and visitors and a new, safe, accessible playground will enhance the amenities at Kin Park, which include a spray park and family pavilion. We want to attract our entire Smoky Lake community to our site to enjoy year-round healthy outdoor play and recreation, regardless of ability.
The current playground requires significant upgrades. Damaged boards and sections are a hazard to park users, and repair or replacement of sections is not viable. We have consulted with Playworks, an Alberta-based playground vendor, regarding equipment and site design to replace the outdated equipment with modern, barrier-free interactive alternatives that meet safety standards to enable children of all ages and abilities in Smoky Lake to play safely. Also, the new rubber surface will mitigate the issue of sand being tracked into the spray park, which will help to prevent costly maintenance. The playground will be visible from the seating area of the pavilion, allowing children to play safely while watched by their caregivers.
The project will use modern playground equipment designed to be sustainable, maintainable and environmentally friendly. Newer playground structures are made from reclaimed material including scrap metal, 100% high density polyethylene from plastic milk jugs, and recycled rubber from used tires that diverts waste from landfill and the need
Who Will it Benefit?
Smoky Lake is a community of almost 1,000 people, as well as county residents of in the outlying communities. Inclusive, functional and free public spaces like parks and playgrounds are the cornerstones of rural communities, enabling greater connection and community engagement. This project will help to encourage Smoky Lake County residents to stay, and contribute to the local community and economy. Infrastructure development is an effective way to attract economic growth, and younger families moving away from expensive urban areas are more likely to consider communities with free, modern amenities. Also, recreation infrastructure encourages healthy, active living that can help mitigate the healthcare costs associated with sedentary lifestyles. The redevelopment of the Kin Park playground will provide that infrastructure. It will increase the quality and availability of public recreation opportunities in Smoky Lake to promote healthy lifestyles.
Playgrounds are a gathering space for the community and an important feature in a rural area. A playground designed with inclusive play elements and surfacing will increase the scope and quality of play for all children in the community. It can encourage regular physical exercise which is important to children’s health. The playground can also promote the development of physical, emotional, social, and cognitive abilities in children, and free play helps teach abstract skills such as expression, reasoning, focus, and autonomous thinking. The playground will also offer an opportunity for children with disabilities from a greater geographic area.
In 2016, 5% of Smoky Lakes’ population identified as Aboriginal (Statistics Canada). The playground will provide the opportunity for shared, inclusive play that helps to reduce barriers by learning about cultural similarities and differences. Sharing identity is especially important for Indigenous youth who generally have fewer opportunities to actively share their culture with their peers. Developing a collective understanding and empathy that crosses cultural boundaries benefits all Canadians, and can be nurtured through play starting at a young age.
The Kin Park playground is open to the public, and will provide a year-round gathering space for community engagement.