When you throw the doors open to a party with more than 4,000 guests, the majority of which are children, you’d better have some help on hand to make sure things go smoothly.
Thanks to a volunteer army of more than 150 people, 85 of whom were students, the University of Lethbridge was able to present its biggest Play Day yet on Monday, Feb. 16 (Family Day).
“I can’t thank our volunteers enough, they really helped us welcome southern Alberta to campus,” says University of Lethbridge President and Vice-Chancellor Dr. Mike Mahon. “Our community and its support for the University is one of the key factors in the success of the U of L. Our students choose to attend the University of Lethbridge for a variety of reasons, the southern Alberta community being one and it was great to see so many of them take some time to show their appreciation and give back. It’s important we are able to share a day like this with families throughout the area and give them the opportunity to connect with one another through play.”
The day could not happen without the corporate support of 1st Choice Savings and Credit Union and the many volunteers they provide for the event. In addition to the large student commitment, U of L faculty and staff, including representatives from the Supporting Our Students team as well as the University of Lethbridge Alumni Association and Aramark, who manned the Toonie BBQ area throughout the afternoon. In all, some 500 volunteer hours go into the successful staging of Play Day.
One student who took up the volunteer call was Kaitlin Norman. A third-year Fine Arts (performance) student, the northern Alberta native says the Play Day 2015 super hero theme was a great lure.
“I love super heroes and I love watching kids run around and have fun, it just makes you feel great about life,” she says.
“I thought it was great we were given the opportunity to volunteer, to get a chance to do something not related to school and something that was good for the community. It was a lot of fun and it was great to see all the young families there putting aside all the stresses of life and just having a day of fun with each other.”
U of L neuroscientist Dr. Robbin Gibb also played a big role in recruiting volunteers for the event, giving class credit to students in her Introduction to Brain and Behaviour course.
"I felt the students would benefit from participating in Play Day as we have just learned about the positive effects of exercise on the brain and we are about to learn about child development and the importance of play relationships for heathy brain development," says Gibb. "Play Day was a perfect opportunity to observe these principles in action and a great way for our students to connect with the community."