In 2013, the Green Shack program underwent changes when provincial employment grant funding was eliminated. The next year (2014), City Council directed the addition of $275,000 to support the delivery of the free Green Shack program, recognizing its importance for low income Edmontonians. One hundred and ten Community Leagues throughout Edmonton showed their commitment to Green Shack programs when they contributed $1000 each to the 182 Green Shack programs across the city.
As well in 2014, the program increased the number of half day programs (173), and maintained limited capacity to offer 9 full day programs (including the City Hall Wading Pool).
The location of these half day programs were determined on the basis of established criteria as well as consultation with a number of internal and external stakeholders.
Decisions of location were based on factors such as higher need areas, the population of children in the neighbourhood, past attendance and availability of recreation programs by other service providers in the neighbourhood. Deliberate attention to location was intended to guarantee children in higher need areas had access to this program.
Two innovative programs were piloted during 2014 to reach out to even more children in Edmonton.
The Pop Up Play program was offered in 34 neighbourhoods where a traditional Green Shack program was not offered – typically this program was offered in the new neighbourhoods of Edmonton where there are a lot of children, but where a playground may not yet exist.
The Summer Recreation Connector program provided outreach to five newcomer and multicultural areas, to familiarize parents and children with the Green Shack program and to support them participating in their local Green Shack program.
The response to the changes in the Green Shack program and addition of the Pop Up Play and Summer Recreation Connector programs were very positive with all programs very well attended.
Based on survey results gathered at the end of the summer 2014, parents overall satisfaction was at 96 per cent. In addition, 96 per cent of parents also told us that they would recommend the programs to their family and friends.
One parent from our survey stated, “I think the Green Shack in our neighbourhood has run extremely well this year. Our leader was great – they really interacted with the kids, and kept them active and crafty. I have been extremely satisfied with the half day program. Huge thanks to the City for investing in the Green Shack program.”
What does this all mean for the Green Shack program for 2015?
Community Services is currently evaluating the 2014 Green Shack, Pop Up Play and Summer Recreation Connector programs with a number of internal and external stakeholders and a decision regarding summer’s 2015 model will be made by the end of the year and announced early in 2015.