Donald’s Market ONE Prize – Ideas for New West

It is no secret that New Westminster has some very talented and active community members who are always on the lookout for innovative ways to add activities and programs that continue to make this city more amazing each day. Sometimes an idea could use seed money to help kickstart it, and others could use funds to improve an existing program. ONE Prize is a fund that is designed to help with such initiatives.

The projects kickstarted by ONE Prize have been both big and small and by organizations as well as individuals. Last year, three local moms got together and submitted a proposal to bring a day of dance to Pier Park. Another idea, by HUB-New Westminster, was an initiative called Bike Share and Repair to get unused bicycles to those who need them, especially low-income families and recent refugee families. Each project, regardless of size, demonstrates a commitment to making our community even more awesome.

 

The ONE Prize was launched in 2012 by Donald’s Market and River Market as a community fund. Goodness Rewards is the loyalty program at Donald’s Market; and through this program, Donald’s Market in New Westminster contributes 1% of every dollar spent to the ONE Prize fund. If you think about it, 1% of a person’s grocery bill does little, but when pooled together with your neighbours’ 1%, the fund is then capable of supporting many terrific projects.

For this year, Goodness Rewards members have collectively raised $6,000. Three projects will be funded $2,000 each. That is definitely a decent amount of money to help with your project idea. The project group can be a non-profit organization, a for-profit enterprise, a community group, or even an individual. It is important to remember that the fund is not designed to help with ongoing operating costs, but instead to fund a new initiative, or expand an already existing program.

Applications are now open until April 10. The online application is quite simple with a few questions about your project. If you have multiple ideas, go ahead and submit them all because there is no limit. The projects ideas will be shortlisted by a jury and the winners are then decided by Goodness Rewards members who will vote for their favourite projects.

If you think you have a great idea, or wish to expand an existing program, visit rivermarket.ca/oneprize for more information and to access the online submission form. If you wish to contribute to the ONE Prize fund, sign up for a Goodness Rewards membership from a Donald’s Market cashier at River Market.

 

Spare Parts and Innovation

On Sunday, February 26, from 11am to 3pm, come to the big tent in front of New Westminster City Hall and you’ll find a bunch of kids making messy, unstable, and ultimately useless creations. You’ll not only see kids having fun, but you’ll see kids having some of the most innovative ideas during New Westminster’s Innovation Week. These kids will approach a pile of found objects, their imaginations will ignite, and they will begin to create and play. Some of the things they create will end in failure, but with each failure they will learn and use the best of what worked to make something successfully. This is innovation at its finest.

Innovation starts with vision. When kids look over the piles of found materials we put out for them they look to see what they might become. Rarely do kids consider using the materials for their original purpose. A tire becomes a swing, a bridge base, or a piece of a mousetrap. Using materials that most adults would consider waste makes it easier for kids to innovate, because they’re not hindered by the idea that something was purchased for a single particular purpose. Children are free to make mistakes, and making mistakes is the key step to innovation. You assemble the things you think you need and you attempt to create your vision. This hardly ever goes right on the first try. Many kids are frustrated by their first failure, because as a society we don’t often give kids a space where failure is accepted, let alone welcomed. If they stick with their original idea most kids use a trial-and-error process and discover all kinds of new ideas on their way to their creation. Some kids will make a mistake, cut something wrong, or find that their unwieldy stack won’t balance, so they abandon their original idea. Some kids end up doing is taking an idea they discovered in the process of making mistakes and using that idea to create something new. Both paths lead to new ideas and eventually some sort of creation the kids are proud to show off.

Innovation is a process. Frequently it’s a process that is both messy and filled with mistakes. By attending a program like the Spare Parts Adventure pop-up playgrounds, children learn the resilience that is necessary for them to be successful innovators and creators as adults. So bring your kids to New Westminster City Hall on February 26th to let them get messy and create something awesome.

 

Go Outside and Play!

go-outside-07Go outside and play!” How many of us grew up hearing that from our parents? This phrase is wrapped up in nostalgia. New Westminster, like childhood, has evolved. What was once row upon row of single family homes is now a patchwork of busy streets with high rises and mixed commercial spaces alongside quiet, tree-lined streets with those single-family homes. Our children still hear this command, as they grow old enough to leave our condos and townhouses and hit the neighbourhood park. “Go outside and play” is as much about growing up in a single-family home, as it is about plain old growing up.

What did we do out there? I roamed the neighbourhood on foot and by bike, and explored the bush near my house. I built tents and forts in the yard. One glorious week, my cousin Wendy and I transformed our picnic table into a river boat and spent hours cruising the canals of England without leaving the backyard. My brother hunted “bad guys” in the woods and built terrible wooden cars.

In our modern cities how do we get our kids to engage in this style of free play? After all, condos don’t come with yards, sheds, basements, or attics. How do we let our children create and be messy without having the space to keep scrap wood and paint around just for the purpose of playing with it?

The solution can be challenging, but is not impossible, and 99% of the solutions don’t involve moving to a community where you need a car. In fact, many of the solutions can be found right here in transit-friendly New Westminster.

go-outside-08A major no-cost way to get outside is to go to the park! New Westminster has more than 40 parks suitable for play. Thirty minutes of outside time surrounded by trees and plants are all that’s needed. At the park, you can play in dirt, splash in puddles, climb rocks or trees, hide in bushes, or hunt for bugs—activities will help your kid connect with nature in a way that’s guaranteed to make them happy and dirty.

One great activity we’ve done to help connect our daughter with nature is borrowing tree identification books from the library and learning the trees in our local parks. Did you know there are over 30 kinds of cherry tree? We’ve learned the names of many flowers, and stopped to observe bees, bats, squirrels, coyotes, and birds in the city. We’ve taken the long way home and picked up enough sticks and flower petals to build a small house. Buckets of water and small objects such as leaves, rocks, flowers, and feathers are entertaining whether in the middle of a lush lawn or a small apartment balcony. We’ve planted flowers in small pots and raised mason bees. We’ve gone for lots of walks. We’ve made boats from peapods and sailed them in birdbaths, although a puddle would have worked just as well.

One great place for a nature walk is Sapperton Landing Park. While there, you can go on the dock to look for fish, herons, or check out the restored marsh areas. Lower Hume Park has great trails where you can learn to identify both native and invasive species. You can watch for fish here too—many an elementary school child has released salmon fry into our rivers. Glenbrook Ravine Park is a sheltered, hidden gem with a little creek running through it. Put on your boots and enjoy hours tramping through mud. Bring a book and relax while the kids explore on their own.

go-outside-09New Westminster Parks and Recreation offer programs to get out and explore such as Club Royale, Junior Club Royale, and Tot Explorers programs. Girl Guides of Canada and Scouts Canada is a great way for your child to connect with nature and the environment. You can take your kids to numerous free play and engaging activities. Recently, we’ve attended Spare Parts Adventures, Young Makers at River Market, and Arts to Go workshops. In the summer, playground leaders are at most of the major playgrounds in New Westminster, offering drop-in outdoor crafts and games.  

More fun activities on our to-do list include building a bug hotel, going berry picking, painting rocks, carving spoons from chunks of wood (indoor friendly!), and creating art inspired by Andy Goldsworthy, a nature artist from Scotland. On rainy days, small thieves can steal pillows and blankets and turn them into forts almost anywhere.

The important thing is to let your child lead and make mistakes. Yes, they may slip on the steep hill, split their pea pod, cry when their boat sinks, or get frustrated when their blanket fort falls down for the eleventh time, but these moments inspire perseverance, imagination, and problem-solving skills. It can be hard to hang back and let your child be out of sight at a busy park, but this is when growth occurs.

You may have heard of ‘Nature Deficit Disorder’, a term coined by Richard Louv in his 2005 book Last Child in the Woods. Louv himself has said since publishing his book that he hesitated to use the term as “our culture is overwrought with jargon.

Louv’s intention with publishing his book was to give parents a wake-up call that things needed to change and that children needed to get outside again in their most vulnerable developmental years. He argued that a child who does not get enough exposure to nature may become more anxious, less able to self-regulate, and lack an understanding of their place in our surrounding environment.

But the book—and the concept—are not without criticism.

Dr. Elizabeth Dickinson, a faculty member at the University of North Carolina, argues that it is a ‘misdiagnosis’. She suggests that modern culture’s disassociation with nature has occurred gradually over time, rather than very recently, and warns that the “cure” is not simply being immersed in nature, rather to examine one’s relationship with nature.

Regardless of semantics, free play opportunities and outside time can go a long way for both adults and children. It can be hard to make time, but added together, even brief moments will help us establish a stronger relationship with nature.

So, yes, give your child a bucket of water knowing they will likely spill it. Let them create for the purpose of creating, and don’t worry about the finished product. Neither of you need the pressure of doing everything right. Let your kids get dirty, break things, and shed some tears while you grow with your child as they learn they can do things on their own. Ultimately, everyone will be better for it.