For volunteers, KidzFest brings out inner child

Matt Gardner
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Now in its 20th year, KidzFest has built a reputation as one of the summer’s highlights for children in the Prince Albert area.

Volunteer and play leader Janaya Trudel helps a youngster make crafts at the 20th annual KidzFest, which took place on Thursday afternoon at Kinsmen Park.

Given the event’s longevity, it was inevitable that many who once enjoyed activities as children would one day come full circle.

Such was the case for adult volunteer Janaya Trudel, a play leader for the city who could be seen entertaining children with music and crafts at Kinsmen Park on Thursday during the 2014 KidzFest.

“I had been ministered to by the play leaders and by the volunteers of Prince Albert as I was a kid, and now I’ve come back,” Trudel said.

“It changes their lives when someone spends time with them to just do simple things like crafts and games.”

Aside from helping children make crafts and musical instruments, Trudel also led kids in a parade through the park on two separate occasions -- singing, making music and enjoying the chance to wear costumes and generally be “silly.”

She indicated that part of the secret to working with kids is tapping into one’s own childhood experiences.

“It’s a great day and I’m having a lot of fun -- just kind of bringing me back to my childhood and allowing me to kind of get in touch with that and have fun,” Trudel said.

“All the kids are just beautiful and they’re such a joy to me in my day here and to everyone else … I’m really happy that the city has put this on and that it has something like this for the community of Prince Albert, and I’m happy to be a part of it.”

Trudel was one of approximately 60 volunteers who were busy at Kinsmen Park on Thursday working to make the event a success.

Another key element were food donations by local businesses, whom city recreation co-ordinator Curtis Olsen thanked for their help.

“Just walking through the park today, in my five years here (helping organize KidzFest), this has to be one of the best ones, I think, in terms of attendance,” Olsen said.

“There’s people everywhere … The games change a little bit, the activities, but one thing that I don’t think will change is it’s just about the kids having a great time, and I think that’s probably the most consistent thing about it and why it’s probably grown over the years.”

It changes their lives when someone spends time with them to just do simple things like crafts and games. Janaya Trudel

Annual preparations for KidzFest begin as early as January, intensifying in June when the city playground co-ordinator and recreation programmers begin hammering out details of the event.

The final, hectic week beforehand is when the whole process comes together, with organizers laying out where different activities will take place in the park.

Setup takes place the same day, with four or five busy hours of work.

“Nothing was done last night here,” Olsen said. “We might have loaded a few things on the trucks and stuff, but everything was brought into the park this morning.”

The fruit of all that preparation, KidzFest 2014 offered a wide range of activities for children in attendance.

Among the options available for kids were facepainting, balloon animals, crafts, games, a bouncy castle, dunk tank and mini-golf.

Meanwhile, stage entertainment throughout the afternoon offered child-friendly entertainers alongside live spectacles featuring characters such as Dora The Explorer and Spongebob Squarepants.

While thanking the work of volunteers and playground staff, Olsen also expressed his gratitude to the parents who brought their children out to the event.

“We really appreciate it and we hope everyone has a good time,” Olsen said. “It’s geared towards the children and youth … but hopefully everyone who comes through has a good time.

“It’s beautiful weather,” he added. “So it’s just a great day to be outside.”

Click HERE for a slideshow featuring more photos from KidzFest 2014.

Organizations: Prince Albert, Dora The Explorer

Geographic location: Kinsmen Park

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