For a special group of children, falling down in the OSNS Child and Youth Development Centre playground doesn’t have to hurt as much any more.
That’s thanks to a generous $150,000 donation from Penticton’s NHL hockey great Duncan Keith of the Chicago Black Hawks.
Keith joined parents, kids and OSNS staff for the ribbon cutting at the grand opening for phase two of the Duncan Keith Adventure Playground outside Kinderplace Preschool.
Keith, through his charity Keith Relief and the Chicago Black Hawk Charities, which do a lot of work helping others in the Windy City, announced in the summer of 2017 they were partnering with OSNS over the next three years.
Keith has also committed funds to helping families in financial crisis throughout the year at the centre.
“We have helped a lot of families there (Chicago) but Penticton is my home town and obviously everybody here is near and dear to my heart,” said Keith at the opening. “I just feel grateful and fortunate and privileged to be in a position to help give back.
“When I found out that they (OSNS) needed some help I thought it was just a great opportunity, so that’s been the biggest sense of joy for myself is just to see and know that it’s helping families and most importantly the children.”
The new playground, constructed mainly by the Wildstone Group of Companies, a long time supporter of the centre, and sponsor of the annual Colours4Kids run that generates thousands of dollars for OSNS, is a special design.
The artificial turf area is a surrounded by a soft rubber track and also features a swing set, climbing equipment and wooden accessories like a boat and table.
“Imagine you’re a three-year-old and you’re just learning to walk and it’s harder for you than it is for other kids, so you fall a lot,” said OSNS executive director Manisha Willms. “If you were a three-year-old and fell on a surface that was hard. How motivated would you be to stand up again and try it again with your physiotherapist? On a surface like this there is a big layer of foam under here; that comes at a price that we’re only able to [afford] because of donations.”
Added the centre’s Meg Dimma: “The even surface also makes it a better learning area for practicing activities that require balance and co-ordination. The children love to use the track around the playground to practice riding on their bikes. At OSNS disguising hard work with play is what our programs are all about.”
Wildstone president Mark Melissen and project manager Marcel Olsthoorn were at the official opening.
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The centre also has an extra special place in Keith’s heart, his son Colton, who is now six, also attended OSNS, so over the past two years he has made many visits to the facility.
“He was very at home with the kids, he just sat right down and had a mud tea party and enjoyed being around the kids and hanging out,” Willms said previously. “Duncan was a very engaged visitor and wanted to know more and about the value of pediatric care and quality programming. It was very special to have that energy in our centre.”
The first phase of the program was a playground on the centre’s lower level and the final next year will be the installation of costly and unique nature-inspired equipment.