From the Centre: Don’t miss out on the Longest Day of Play

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Not to depress anyone, but we have reached the date with the most daylight and it’s all downhill from here; I’m starting to think about snow tires and rolling up hoses. Just kidding — we have a long way to go and the best of summer is on its way after one of our better springs. What does mark June 21 is that it is, as ParticipAction calls it, the Longest Day of Play.

As good Canadians, of course, we all know that ParticipAction is a national non-profit society started in 1971 solely to inspire and support active living and sport participation in Canada and became internationally recognized for doing just that. Probably slightly ahead of the curve back then (who knew?) core funding dropped and it had to close its doors in 2001. Obviously, somebody since then started to look around at the flaring rates of diabetes, childhood obesity, inactivity and the general decline of the Roman Empire, so with generous support from Sport Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, ParticipAction was revitalized in 2007 as the national voice of physical activity and sport participation in Canada. Whew, just in time!

Anyway, as the national voice of physical activity and sport participation, ParticipAction wants to hark back to a time when our neighborhoods were bustling with active kids playing after school, after dinner and much of the weekend. Remember when sounds of children’s laughter and having fun with friends filled the streets until the street lights came on and parents called their children in for the night? On the longest day of the year, June 21, they would like us to take advantage of the extra daylight to enjoy the Longest Day of Play. Turn off the TV and go to the park, schoolyard or your local recreation centre — and just play!

“The Longest Day of Play is a great excuse to go out after dinner, let loose in the park, explore, run, jump and climb. Just get out and play,” says Kelly Murumets, ParticipAction president and CEO. “Active play is enjoyable, but it is also shown to improve a child’s motor function, creativity, decision-making, problem-solving and social skills.”

The organization will also track Canada’s minutes of play — all you have to do is log them in. For tons of information, right down to some cool games to play with the kids, go to www.participaction.com and start reading.

While I have you — just a shout out to the volunteers and the participants of our second annual Just Tri It triathlon which went off with nary a hitch on June 1. The participants were there for their own reasons ranging from training for a larger event, the challenge of it all or a fundraiser for a group (and one group raised significant funds for a specific cause, which is another story). I tend to drift more towards recognition for the volunteers who are there for a whole set of different reasons, all giving freely of their time to wave a traffic sign around, pass water out, count swimmers’ laps or help organize and tear down, among other jobs, but ultimately to assist in providing a fun and safe experience for others. It is just another example of how “stuff” happens in our community on all fronts that simply would not be if it were not for volunteers.

Neil Ostafichuk is the recreation supervisor at the Creston and District Community Complex.