Crowdfunding effort takes aim at indoor playground for youth

Dejah Kathleen Clarke Woman doing crowdfunding for indoor playground for young children Aug. 6, 2015 Hay River Photo by Paul Bickford Northern News Services Ltd.

Dejah Kathleen Clarke
Woman doing crowdfunding for indoor playground for young children
Aug. 6, 2015
Hay River
Photo by Paul Bickford
Northern News Services Ltd.

A Hay River woman has launched a crowdfunding initiative with the goal of creating an indoor playground for young children.

“I’ve had the idea since she was big enough to crawl around and get into trouble,” said Dejah Kathleen Clarke, pointing to her now three-year-old daughter playing in an outdoor park. “I’ve been thinking about it for a long time, but I haven’t actually investigated it until like maybe a year ago when I started to get inquisitive about it.”

Her concept is to provide an indoor playground facility as an affordable physical activity outlet for youngsters.

“It’s all about running and playing and being physically active,” said the mother of two, including an 11-month-old.

According to Clarke, one of the considerations is that the winters are long in Hay River andleave few opportunities for young children to run and play rambunctiously.

“I’m wanting to be a part of the solution to encourage children to live a healthy lifestyle by staying active,” she states in her appeal on the crowdfunding website youcaring.com, adding the idea is for a facility to be economical for all participants and self-sustaining.

Clarke said she has a number of possibilities for a location.

She also noted she has found a few government funding programs that would fit the project, but she requires 15 per cent – $11,500 – of the start-up costs to be eligible to apply.

However, as a housekeeper and a young mother, she explained she doesn’t have that access to that much money for the project, although she has committed $1,000 of her own funds.

That leaves $10,500 to raise through the crowdfunding effort, which as of Aug. 8 had collected $80 from five sponsors with about 80 days left to go.

Earlier this year, Clarke presented her idea to town council.

Mayor Andrew Cassidy said he believes council would be in favour of such an indoor playground, noting such facilities are common in the Vancouver area.

“They’re very, very popular, and I believe it’s a very successful business,” said Cassidy. “Council is very positive, very supportive of the project. I think it would be another great asset for our community if someone was to go ahead and manage to establish a business like that.”

Before going the crowdfunding route, Clarke formed a not-for-profit association in an attempt to get government funding.

However, the one application she submitted was unsuccessful.

The association was dissolved about a month ago.

Clarke is not deterred by the apparent slow start to the crowdfunding effort.

“Regardless, I’m going to keep on trying,” she said.

Clarke said, aside from a place to play in the winter, an indoor playground would also get children away from outdoor playgrounds, where there might be dirt, litter and glass.

“I think it would be ideal all year round,” she said. “And I would keep it open all year round.”