A playground is never just a playground. It’s a race course. A safe haven. An imagination factory. A confidence builder. A community builder. A playground is a wonderful place where kids (and grownups too) can just be kids.
We are so fortunate to live where playgrounds are abundant – and where community leaders understand the importance of these spaces for their neighbourhoods and the children therein. Those of us who haven’t been involved in a playground project might easily forget that it takes tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to create these truly incredible playspaces.
Playgrounds are one of my absolute favourite things to write about. My kids and I make special trips all over the capital region to visit playgrounds and I love to post our findings. When we found Andy’s Playground in Fort Saskatchewan, I couldn’t wait to share our discovery. And then I started doing my research…
Before I tell you about how awesome Andy’s Playground is, I want to tell you about how awesome Andy Polanski was.
Andy Polanski was a Fort Saskatchewan resident all his life. He’s described as having been generous, selfless, kind, a leader and above all, someone who loved to make others laugh. Andy loved playing ball and dreamed of building a playground on the site of the Dow Centennial Slo-Pitch Diamonds, so kids could play while their parents played ball.
Andy’s life was tragically cut short by a vehicle collision. He lives on in the many people who were helped by the donation of his organs and tissues. His spirit also lives on in the beautiful playground that bears his name. His family and friends came together to bring his vision to reality. (You can read more about Andy’s incredible story HERE.)
Andy’s Playground is truly a special place and no detail has been spared. It’s huge and bright and colourful and so much fun. At the centre of its great features is one that is arguably the most coveted of playground finds – a zipline!
There is a fabulous ‘big’ kids’ structure, featuring three great slides. (my kids say red is the best.) There are spinners, climbing structures and balance apparatuses of all kinds, plus built-in games, balls and gears.
The ‘little’ kids’ park is great too. With a base of rubber park flooring, it’s a toddler haven with 5 slides, mini climbers, and even a hollow tree and stumps for hiding and jumping.
Andy’s has four big kid swings, two baby swings and a saucer swing. There are covered picnic tables and benches and there is a washroom trailer that operates seasonally. (It wasn’t yet open for the season when we visited in early April.) The base is a mix of sand and rubber park flooring. Given the number of surrounding ball diamonds and the adjacent community trail, I envision this playground is always packed in the summer.
My favourite feature at Andy’s are the words set into the play structures. Words like “community”, “kindness”, “courage”, “love” and “laughter”. Gentle reminders of a remarkable young man who continues to bring so much happiness to so many.