As the parent of three young—and extremely active—kids, I spend a LOT of time at playgrounds. Now when I say a lot, I’m talking hours and hours … even after it gets dark outside, even when it’s pouring rain and even through the dead of winter. So I know firsthand just how important playgrounds are as a place for children to get out and get active.
But as a community league and parent council volunteer, I also know how expensive playgrounds are—and how challenging (and frustrating) it can be to fundraise not only for playgrounds but for all types of community amenities to promote active living. And not only amenities for children, but for all community members.
Recognizing the challenges communities face in creating amenities to promote active living, Alberta Blue Cross responded by launching the Alberta Blue Cross Healthy Communities Grant Program. Over the last six years, our program has provided more than $1.3 million to more than two dozen projects in every corner of the province to support amenities including bike and skateboard parks, outdoor gyms, sports courts, and of course, new and replacement playgrounds.
Each year, we award $50,000 grants with one for Edmonton, one for Calgary, one for secondary cities and one for rural communities—this ensures that the grants are equitably distributed on a regional basis. In 2017, we expanded the program by adding a ‘special merit’ grant, and this year we further expanded the program by adding a grant specifically for projects in Indigenous communities.
For our 2018 grant year, we received 116 applications for a wide variety of initiatives from all regions and corners of the province. The projects that were selected this year to receive grants are
• Edmonton: St. Pius X Elementary School—playground replacement;
• Calgary: St. Peter Elementary School—new playground;
• Secondary cities: Grande Prairie—multi-purpose four season sports pad;
• Rural communities: Bentley School Chest Society—Joclyn Snow memorial playground;
• Indigenous communities: Maskwacis community—new outdoor fitness challenge park; and
• Special merit: County of Parkland—Graminia outdoor rink replacement.
Tallying the cumulative impact of our Healthy Communities Grant Program over the last six years and the 30-plus projects we have supported to date, we are delivering amenities that promote active living for tens of thousands of Albertans.
When we are fortunate enough to attend the opening of these projects, we are ecstatic to see firsthand the positive impact our program has on the communities we serve. Which is ultimately what it’s all about.
For more information about our grant program or our other community involvements, please visit us at ab.bluecross.ca/aboutus/community-involvement.php.
By Brian Geislinger, vice-president, Corporate Relations
This was originally published on LinkedIn on December 18, 2018.