Play Week brings people together

Streets, buildings, school playgrounds, footpaths, and shop fronts throughout Invercargill and wider Southland have been looking bright and colourful this month, through a simple initiative showcasing that every space can be a play space. 

National Play Week was held from November 7 – 12 and aimed to bring communities together in their neighbourhoods to play. Active Southland’s Healthy Families Invercargill team were involved, driving a local initiative called Chalk It Up, which gave people space and permission to indulge their inner child and create chalk art and activities in their neighbourhoods. 

The initiative was hugely successful, with schools, businesses, organisations, families, councils, and emergency services, among others, jumping at the chance to get involved. 

Healthy Families Invercargill Play Systems Innovator Megan Dawson said she was floored with how popular the concept had been. 

“It’s such a simple idea and people just loved it. We were inundated with requests for chalk from groups wanting to be involved. We sent chalk right throughout the region, even across to Stewart Island. Everyone wanted to have a go to relive their youth, get outside, and have some fun.” 

The feedback had been incredibly positive, with people commenting that it was such a great reminder of how easy it was to play. 

“Every space can be a play space and Chalk It Up really showcased that – we had chalk art sent in of footpaths outside local supermarkets, on manhole covers in people’s yards, on the sides of buildings, in school playgrounds. This initiative really showed people that they can play anywhere. We removed that barrier of space and permission and reminded them how simple play can be,” Megan said. 

“We’d love our communities to keep up the fun, particularly those businesses, such as supermarkets, that are really the cornerstone of our neighbourhoods. This is a great way to stay connected, and of course, to get out and have some fun at any age,” Megan said. 

Chalk It Up was one of several initiatives Healthy Families Invercargill led during Play Week, with a collaborative play activation involving local support agencies held at Jump n Fun, and a play activation held at ILT Stadium Southland. 

A play area was also trialed at the Southern Farmers’ Market last weekend, to test whether it would be embraced by people attending the market – the resounding answer, based on the number of people giving the games and activities a go, was yes. 

Families involved in the play activation at Jump n Fun also praised the efforts of Healthy Families Invercargill in bringing vulnerable and often isolated families together. 

“Look how many people it’s connected,” one mother said, while another said “it really makes us feel like we are part of a community. Often we can be isolated and really feel alone, so feeling like we are part of this, is really good.” 

Spirit Army Leader Gerry Forde said the Healthy Families Invercargill play activations created a sense of community and brought people together, and the value of that was immense. 

“Connecting with other organisations, particularly families working within those organisations, allows people to see that they aren’t alone in whatever journey they are on, and it gives a real sense of connection to one another and to the community,” he said. 


Article added: Monday 21 November 2022


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