By Joan Janzen

Three years ago, Chantal Palynchuk took on the position of director of iKids Club in Kindersley. The club is a non profit organization for kids ages 4 to 9 years where they play gym games, electronic games, and enjoy crafts and a snack each week at 800 – 12th Avenue East. The high energy games are always a welcome addition for kids to expend some of their vast amounts of energy, which the kids enjoy, but their parents also appreciate picking up a child at the end of the evening who is physically tired.

“Normally we had twenty to thirty kids attending club nights,” Chantal said, but that all changed when restrictions began to be added to the mix. Nevertheless, Chantal and her team of volunteers realized the importance of keeping the club up and running, in spite of all the restrictions. They were determined to find a way to make it work.

“We cut the number of kids in half, to fifteen, and with the new restrictions cut it down again to eight kids,” Chantal explained. In addition to the regular Thursday night iKids, Chantal added another club night on Tuesday evenings, so more children could attend.

“In my mind it was important to give kids a place to socialize, especially while some of their parents were working from home. We had to find games that promoted social distancing,” Chantal said. One of the games the children played was a creative version of tag called Dr./Virus. A child wearing gloves and holding a hand full of shaving cream would run and tag other children with the cream, while a doctor would come along and wipe it off. “It showed how the pandemic was working, and the kids loved it when we played it at iKids Camp, so we played it at club as well,” Chantal said, referring to iKids Camp which is a day camp held during the summer months.

“We created some literacy games, with the focus this year being encouraging math skills and literacy,” Chantal explained. “We’re basically making things fun for kids, while maintaining our mission statement which is to help kids to be kids. And we had everything to create structure that allows increased awareness of space, but still allows kids to play with their friends.”

Club nights are a time when kids can exercise their motor skills and play word games and counting games. The kids miss the bouncer castles and nurf gun wars that they were accustomed to before the regulations, but Chantal said her team has learned how to follow the restrictions without allowing it to stop the kids from having fun.

“It’s been a good experience to learn different strategies that will help us prepare for camp this summer,” she said. “I like that I get to be creative and find new ways to do things. I enjoy the challenge, and I love seeing kids’ faces light up when they try out something new. I want a place where kids can be themselves, learn and grow without any inhibitions.”

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