Odyssey House in Grande Prairie opened its first outdoor playspace Tuesday. The women’s shelter’s backyard has been outfitted with a new gazebo-like structure, a sandbox and other outdoor furniture.
“We had Telus day of giving come and approach us probably around March or April and ask us if there was anything they could do to give back to Odyssey House and the community,” says Executive Director Ebony Rempel. “Right away we thought we need to develop this outside space here.”
After receiving $11,000 in donations from community members and organizations, construction began on the space on June 16. TELUS brought in 20 volunteers from the city to assemble all the different pieces.
“If you can imagine what the space looked like before it was literally all of this dead grass; there was no bamboo, no lattice, no anything,” Rempel says.
Over about an 18-hour span, volunteers built the pergola, sandbox, hopscotch stumps, pallet bench, hammock and a natural bird’s nest for seating. Rempel says it’s great to have a new space where mothers and their children can spend time outside together.
“Before there just wasn’t a space like this. The only option was to leave the shelter, which often isn’t safe for moms and families, so it was really important to have a space like this.”
Rempel says that Odyssey House’s play space turned out so well that they hope to build one at their other location as well.
“We really like having a space where children can hang out and be quiet in the bird’s nest or on the hammock… as well as space for moms to sit and watch their kids. So that’s kind of what we’re hoping for next door as well.”
The hope is to have that space done this summer as well.