Opportunities Waterloo Region (Opportunities) with funding from the Ministry of Health Promotion conducted an environmental scan of recreation and leisure opportunities for youth in the Region of Waterloo in 2007. Community workshops and forums indicated a community priority with access to information and resources in a simplified, single source reference for recreation and leisure opportunities. With the data collected from the environmental scan, Opportunities, with generous funding from the L.S. Hallman Foundation and in partnership with the Centre for Community Mapping and the Computer Systems Group of the University of Waterloo, has developed this on-line resource directory of play, leisure and sports recreation facilities, activities and related groups. The project will go public in July 2008.
To launch this application (click here)
Searches can be done by organization names, categories and sub-categories or by Municipality.
The focus of this stage of Playscape's development is the local management as well as accessibility of community-centre, after-school programs and other after school activities in relatively close proximity to each neighbourhood.
Accessible and user-friendly information has been identified as one way to increase youth participation in recreation & leisure activities.
The Region of Waterloo has an overall abundance of opportunities. However, local neighbourhoods experience pockets of resource shortages and difficulty identifying and accessing resources that respond to immediate and local needs, whether those needs are defined as financial, cultural, facilities or a mix of needs.
Maintenance and completeness of the Playscape database could be assured if all formal and informal, including ad-hoc, organizations that sponsor or coordinate Playscape opportunities were to collaboratively administer the database. To encourage usage, completeness and maintenance of the Playscape database, this proposal would apply powerful of web-based secure social network technologies, that prompt connections among individuals who have common interests, to strengthen social bonds and cooperation in our neighbourhood communities. These technologies could help build relationships, learning communities and enhanced communication among local self-organizing neighbourhood groups of residents for the purpose of planning and implementing community level projects and for day-to-day management of family and community activities. Advanced collaborative geomatics services will be used in conjunction with social network services to provide key application services for neighbourhoods that are lay accessible and easy to use.
Region of Waterloo newcomers Dan and Sherri have two young kids, 8 yr old Ben and 11 yr old Alice, who attend Cedar Creek Public School in Ayr. They’re eager to find after-school and weekend activities for the children but have very limited funds. Ben thinks soccer would be fun, while Alice is eager to join an arts group where she can improve her painting skills and make new friends. Dan and Sherri have been given passwords by Cedar Creek and they have set up their family profile on the COMAP “Playscape” system for recreation and leisure activities in their neighbourhood.
Logging in to the Playscape ‘every kid can play’ site, the family searches the map of Ayr under sports and arts themes and finds information on age-appropriate soccer and arts activities at the kids’ school and at the community centre closest to their home. The complete schedules give details on locations, days, hours, equipment/ supplies required, costs (if any), how to register the kids online, and how to inquire about subsidies.
They soon have Ben happily enrolled in an after-school soccer group at his school. There are no fees because a local business sponsors the activity, and the “Equipment Wanted/Exchange” forum of the COMAP Playscape site leads to a neighbour with some soccer shoes in good condition that his 9 yr old has outgrown.
Alice is delighted to join the arts “crew” at the neighbourhood community centre, mentored by a local artist whose modest honorarium as well as some supplies are donated by a local “arts patron” who learned of the need on COMAP’s “Arts for All” forum; Alice is happy to pay a small supplies fee out of her babysitting money. The students in the group hope some of the big kids from the nearby high school will help them plan an exhibit at the community centre. They aim to showcase their work and publicize the exhibit on Playscape site.
Dan and Sherri see that their neighbours have set up a forum for their children’s schoolmates to discuss how the Cedar Creek soccer field can be better supervised after school. The forum welcomes input from Dan and Sherri and soon thereafter Dan and Sherri are invited to volunteer and join in a BBQ down the street, Dan and Sherri are settling in to Ayr.