Finn (left) and Ryan engaging in the My Place icebreaker, Find Your Partner, before bowling. The first part was guessing who or what they were by asking questions with a partner, the next step involved walking around until they found a match. This icebreaker is about communicating and getting to know each other.MHN PHOTO SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The mental health capacity building program, know as My Place and Hug, within the Medicine Hat Public School Division, has been getting kids out of the house and involved in activities this summer. 

“We put on prevention and promotion programs throughout the year in the schools. In the summer, we do free activities for youth, young kids, families and community,” said program manager April Welshman.

On Tuesday in the early afternoon, the My Place camp program — which runs Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursdays each week from 1-3 p.m. — was at Panorama Lanes to enjoy some afternoon bowling. My Place is for ages 11 to about 15 (students entering Grade 7 this September through to Grade 9 students). 

“The whole point of the My Place program is so kids make friends throughout the summer,” explained Welshman. “Then when they go to Alexander Middle School, Crescent Heights or Dr. Roy Wilson, they aren’t so nervous because they met friends through our program.”

My Place is also about connection and building social skills, while also enjoying the planned activities. Last week they went rock climbing and talked about perseverance, resiliency, along with trying different activities and putting oneself out there. This week the group tried bowling, swimming and golf.

Some kids are regulars and attend every week, but others come and go. Activities are advertised through their social media (MyPlace/Hug on Facebook) and on the MHPSD website.

The Hug program is for elementary students and runs the same days as My Place, but earlier in the day, from 10 a.m. to noon. In August, there are spots available in the camps for community helpers’ week and water week for those who are interested in enrolling their child.

On Mondays, My Place/Hug runs community events that anyone can join for free. Last week, it was art activities in Strathcona Park. Next week it’s changed up slightly, with a Celebrate Stampede Week. 

There is no registration required next week, all activities are free and everyone is welcome. 

On Tuesday, there will be glitter tattoos and facepainting from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at Strathcona Park. 

Wednesday is wild west crafts from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Strathcona Park with an Alpaca visit scheduled for 11:30 a.m. 

On Thursday there will be giant games at Saamis Rotary Park from 12:30-2:30 p.m.

Today, MyPlace/Hug is holding a Super Mario Scavenger Hunt at Strathcona Park from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. This is a free event open to all families with no registration required. 

“Come down and collect the coins that will be all over the park. We’ll be down where the picnic area is,” said Welshman.

To sign up for an activity or for more information, email april.welshman@sd76.ab.ca.

By SAMANTHA JOHNSON, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jul 21, 2023

This item reprinted with permission from   Medicine Hat News   Medicine Hat, Alberta

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