Planning for Free Family Fun

One of the challenges families in Uxbridge reported was the lack of low-cost activity programs for their family to take part in. To address this barrier, Take TIME Uxbridge held Free Family Fun events at least twice a month. Each event was designed to offer families a no-cost opportunity to be physically active together. Event activities were also geared toward addressing a need in the community. This included increasing awareness of community resources by providing guides at the events, safer play areas through increased supervision, mandating the use of safety equipment at events, nutrition and healthy eating seminars, and tailoring the activities to meet a wide range of age groups and skill levels. The free events attracted hundreds of participants and were terrific avenues for disseminating TIME related information and actively engaging the community in practicing TIME components.

Remember, Free Family Fun was offered during the Take TIME Uxbridge project because it addressed an important need in the community. Consider the need in your own community for access to low-cost programs to help you decide whether Free Family Fun should be part of your Take TIME campaign.

Should your TakeTIME campaign include Free Family Fun?

  1. Is there a lack of family friendly events?
  2. Do you have support from your community council?
  3. Do you have space and facilities for these events?
  4. Do you have time and budget to plan for quality events?

Recruit organizations to partner with you on the events. Incentives such as free advertising, in exchange for their support, are great ways to build partnerships. Some may offer to assist at events by hosting at their club, providing draw prizes, or volunteering. The sky is the limit. Encourage groups in your community to suggest what would work best for them to get everyone involved.

 

How do you find potential partners?
Local business may be eager to join your cause, or you may have to seek out organizations that share your goals, such as health organizations, athletic apparel companies, or youth groups. Local restaurants or food groups that have an interest in healthy eating may also wish to partner with your TakeTIME project.  Of course, you should also contact any facilities that may be able to directly provide the services and spaces you need, such as recreation centres or arenas.

How do you get them interested?
Some organizations will want to join your cause because of shared interests and goal. If you can demonstrate to them what your objectives are, they may wish to become involved. Other groups may see a benefit in having their brand or name associated with the work you are doing, or they may be able to offer sample or products to your participants, which may be to benefit of everyone involved.  

How do you keep them interested?
Just like with any relationship, it’s crucial to make sure that both you and your partners are achieving your goals and finding benefits to the partnership.  Keep in communication with your partners, and make sure that you’re following through on any promises. Never miss an opportunity to thank those who’ve helped you!

What's in it for them?
The answer to this question will vary depending ont he type of organization you have partnered with, but always try and view the situation from their point of view. If you have partnered with a facility that lets you use their space to run programs, respect that facility, ensure that the families who visit keep it clean and enjoy it safely. If one of your partners has sponsored your event as a means to promote their brand, make sure that you’re getting them the visibility they expect. 

Questions to consider when event planning for Free Family Fun:

How many events do you plan on organizing during the year?
TakeTime Uxbridge was able to host approximately 2 events each month, but your community may host more or less depending on space, volunteer, budget, and equipment availability. The number of events you host also depends on their size – will you be hosting many events throughout the year that have limited participant and resource capacity (e.g. less than 30), or are you hosting a few large events (parades, carnivals, etc) that have large participant and resource capacity? All of these need to be considered when organizing such events.

What is your budget and space allocation for the year? Have these been approved by the necessary individuals?
Your budget and space availability will determine the types of events you are able to host. For example, if your granting agency has given you $5 per participant, and the facilities have a maximum capacity of 100 people, your event will be different than if you were allocated $10 per participant with a maximum capacity of 500 per event.Space for TakeTIME Uxbridge events were provided by schools, community centers, the township, and organizations hosting the event. Connect with your contacts at these locations to determine the procedures needed to use the space. Be sure to explain to each contact what TakeTIME is, what will occur at the event, the number of individuals you’re expecting, and other pertinent information to ensure organizations are comfortable providing space for the TakeTIME project.

Have your received approval from the necessary individuals?
These may be school boards, councils, and community organizations. To help ensure your event runs smoothly, make sure you have hard copy letters of approval from the necessary individuals on hand during events for anyone that asks.

Is anyone hosting the event(s) with you?
Make use of all the skills sets available, and and don’t be afraid to split some of the organizing efforts.

Will you have volunteers?
 Volunteers for the TakeTIME Uxbridge events were gathered from local youth programs/clubs, partnering organizations, and the Township of Uxbridge. Determine the maximum number of participants you can include and the number of participants you expect to attend. Based on these numbers, you can determine the number of volunteers and/or supervisors you will need to set up, organize, run, and clean up your event.

Where are you getting volunteers and how many will you have?
 e.g., examples of sources of volunteers in your local community, how you can estimate participant capacity, how to provide incentives for volunteers to actually show up, etc.

If it will not be possible to welcome large numbers of participants, how will people reserve a spot or indicate that they are coming to the event?
Consider various methods for reservations, such as a tickets, or online reservations.

Where will you advertise/promote these events?
Consider online groups (such as Facebook groups), local recreation centres or recreation centre websites, local radio, and brochures.

Will you have draw prizes?
 Draw prizes were given at TakeTIME Uxbridge free family fun events. Prizes were donated by local organizations in exchange for promotion of their support at the event and on the TakeTIME web site. The prizes included safety equipment, sports equipment, gift cards for healthy food, and free entry to community programs. See the Partners and Sponsors section of this webpage for more information.

Each topic below will be important in setting the stage for your Take TIME project.

Volunteers

Initially you will just need to determine if you need volunteers, and if so, how many will your event require? The type of volunteers you need, and the number of volunteers you need, may affect the scheduling for your TakeTIME events. For example, you may be able to attract high school volunteers if you event is near a highschool and takes place close to the end of the school day.

It’s also important to keep in mind what you will be expecting of volunteers. Unless it’s be explicitly requested, volunteers likely won’t have any sort of expertise related to the tasks they’ll be performing. Depending on what the volunteers will be required to do, they may need supervision, or brief training early in the day.

Space

Location and facilities are very big factors in the success of a program or event. If you’re facility is outdoors, what will you have planned in case of inclimate weather? Does your location have enough bathrooms to serve all of your particpants and volunteers? Is the location accessible to all members of your community? Is the location suitable for all of the activities you have planned?

Prizes

Prizes are not mandatory, but if there are children involved in the activities its can have a very positive effect to reward them for their participation. This can be something as small as stickers, or can involve larger prizes and raffles to drum up excitement and get parents and families to attend the event.

Type of events

The type of events you could organize in your community will depend on the interests in your community, time of year, time of day, and space/volunteer availability. If community members are interested in swimming, but there is only one pool available, you will have to be creative in figuring out other ways to meet their needs. This may include holding multiple events at the same location, or instead of swimming, having a “water works” day at the local park. The time of day you hold your event is also pertinent to the success of your event. If your event is geared toward school-aged children, you will get more participants on a weekend than during a weekday. However, if the event is geared towards parents with infants or toddlers, a weekday event is great for space availability and a quieter atmosphere.

Incorporate all four TIME components (Tobacco Free, Injury Free, Moving daily, Eating Healthy) into your campaign, but not necessarily into each event. Take TIME Uxbridge addressed the community’s interest in hockey and lack of arena space by organizing a pond-hockey day with a local sports club. Rinks and participants were divvied according to age and skill level. The goal of the event was to increase the number of children who could participate in the hockey event. Increasing the number of rinks and volunteers allowed organizers to divide rinks based on age and skill level, allowing a wide range of children to participate. Other TIME components were incorporated, but not the main focus, through mandatory use of hockey helmets (Injury Free) and prohibiting smoking (Tobacco Free) at the event. Hot apple cider (Healthy Eating), instead of hot chocolate, was provided as a snack.