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?
- Is there a lack of family friendly events?
- Do you have support from your community council?
- Do you have space and facilities for these events?
- 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?
Questions to consider when event planning for Free Family Fun:How many events do you plan on organizing during the year?
Each topic below will be important in setting the stage for your Take TIME project.
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.
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 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.