Playbox offers free summer fun for New West families

Play. It’s a simple thing, but it’s an important part of a healthy, happy, active childhood – and the City of New Westminster wants to make sure all local kids get a chance to enjoy play this summer.

The city has partnered with Kids New West, Fraser Health, the New Westminster School District and the Live 5210 program to provide a free “playbox” at Westminster Pier Park.

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The box, which is located at the Timber Wharf, will be filled with toys, balls and instructions for outdoor games.

John Stark, the city’s senior social planner, said the boxes have an important role to play in the city.

“They provide free play opportunities for low-income families, which significantly reduces the barriers to participation,” he said in a press release. “The box will also include copies of theAffordable Active Living Guide and information about the parks and recreation subsidy program.

Mayor Jonathan Cote said the benefits of play go beyond just children and extend to families, the community and the environment.

 “With initiatives live the Live 5210 play box, we can provide these benefits to all families in New Westminster and make our public parks more inviting and exciting places to be,” he said.

Live 5210 refers to four guidelines designed to help encourage proper nutrition and physical activity: that kids should have five or more servings of veggies and fruits a day; that kids should not use screens for more than two hours a day; that kids should actively play for at least one hour per day; and that they should choose healthy foods with no sugar-sweetened drinks.

The playbox concept has already been launched in B.C. cities including Abbotsford, Chilliwack, Delta and Nanaimo.

The box will be locked each night by city staff and then unlocked for kids and families the next morning. The box at Pier Park will be evaluated with an eye on adding additional boxes around the city if it works.

The playbox was officially unveiled at the Pier 2 Landing event on June 19.

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