Labrador West moms team up to give kids somewhere warm to play in winter

A new not-for-profit group in Labrador West hopes to keep local kids playing no matter how low the temperatures go.   

Sonja Pritchett and Jenny Sullivan of Indoor Play Labrador are planning to open the Kids Club, an indoor playground that can be enjoyed all year long.

"It's been a need in our community for a long time," Pritchett said.  

The plan is for the facility to have slides, tunnels, swings, monkey bars and things to climb, as well as a separate toddler space for kids under three years of age.

"[Younger kids] can develop gross motor skills, with large soft things for them to play with, stack on, climb on," Pritchett said.

"They can interact with their parents there, they can interact with other children."

Alyson Samson/CBC

An indoor playground would offer Labrador West kids a chance to stay active during the area's long and frigid winters, when playing outside isn't always an option. 

"There's a lot of programming for children in town but it doesn't always fit with people's work schedules, child care, and this would be available seven days a week probably 10-12 hours a day," Pritchett said. 

"It's at your leisure, when it works for you. You don't have to worry about whether naptime is going to conflict with swimming or if your work schedule conflicts with the gymnastics schedule."

Long winters, restless children (and parents)

With the sub-zero temperatures Labrador experiences during its lengthy winters, keeping kids active and entertained can become a challenge. 

"Myself in the winter, when we wanted to get out of the house we go to Walmart," Pritchett said.

"Both of us valuing healthy and active lifestyles, we want our kids to be able to move, even in December when its –45," Sullivan said. 

Sullivan and Pritchett, along with others, have been working on the plan and financing to open the indoor playground since March of this year, with hopes of having the doors open in 2020. 

We want our kids to be able to move,  even in December when its –45. - Jenny Sullivan

Plans for the structure are still in the works, but the women want it to be a place everyone can enjoy, with a welcoming entrance, a place for all the gear winter requires, and somewhere for children to have a drink or a snack in between playing while parents relax.

The indoor playground would also offer a space to book birthday parties, the women said.

"[It's] another gap which we've identified in our community; there's a lack of space to hold birthday parties for children," Pritchett said. 

Accessibility is also important, as Labrador City recently introduced a barrier-free business grant to encourage businesses to become more accessible. 

"There'll be a wheelchair-accessible washroom," Pritchett said. 

The two women intend for the indoor playground to offer the flexibility that programmed activities can't when the weather makes it difficult to play outside.

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"Your kids are in one or two things a week and they have to wait to go. Some parents are home with their children. and OK, well, today the program that's offered clashes with naptime, so unfortunately we're not getting out of the house today in February," Sullivan said.

They're hoping the space will benefit both parents and kids.

"When we have the playground open I could call a friend, we can decide amongst ourselves what time works best, and every single day there would be an opportunity to go down  kids can climb, play, they can just hang out," Sullivan said.

That socialization is good for parents too, she said.

"Parents need out too, so I think that can be a bonus for everyone in the family."

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