Regina teacher spreads the word about free, accessible play spaces in the city

When Whitney Blaisdell had her second child, she started seeking out spaces her kids could play in for free.

"I started to find all these spaces that I wasn't aware of, or, I was aware of, but I never really went into and explored," Blaisdell said.

"It makes me wish I had known just a little bit more about these spaces [before]."

Blaisdell, who's currently on maternity leave from her job as a teacher at École Harbour Landing, is in the process of obtaining her masters degree in education. Her thesis looks at the free play spaces available in Regina.

Instagram/@playyqr

Now, she's posting photos of the spaces on Instagram as @playyqr along with details of what each has to offer.

Blaisdell said she also hopes to have a website up and running soon.

She said she initially chose Instagram because she uses it quite a bit in her personal life. It also provides an opportunity to present the spaces to people in a different way.

"Unless things are sort of coming at you, I find people really aren't just going and looking online anymore," she said.

"This is a way, I'm hoping, that when parents or anyone really, is on their phone or looking through their feed, they'll see new spaces coming right to them."

Accessibility, food friendliness addressed

Blaisdell said she wanted to look at how accessible the spaces are, because parents travel with strollers can sometimes find getting around challenging.

"It's so nice to be able to know [if a place is stroller accessible]," she said. "That usually means it's wheelchair accessible as well."

Blaisdell said it's also nice to know where it's okay to bring her own food for her children.

She used to be unaware that libraries were OK with people bringing in their own food. She said learning that has changed how she plans outings with her two children.

"Everyone is so friendly about it, every time I bring out food they're like 'yeah, absolutely, just no nuts,' " she said.

Her Instagram posts inform viewers about what foods aren't allowed in the locations to allow people to plan accordingly.

Highlighting free spaces to make play accessible

Blaisdell said that highlighting locations with no costs associated with them is also an effort to make play something that's accessible for everyone, regardless of their budget.

"Not that there's anything wrong with commercial play places, any play space is great," she said.

"But there's sort of the privatization of play that's happening, where you have to pay to go and play somewhere, or pay to go to a pool, you have to pay fees, or even when you have to buy food there, it's limiting to people."