When my coworkers and I heard that there was grant money available through the Neighbourhood Small Grants program to help bring our community together, we could not miss this opportunity to apply. We wanted to help strengthen connections within a neigbourhood where the most we knew about each other were the cars we drove.
Together, Isabel and I sat down to create an invitation list, a promotion plan to spread the word about the event with the aim of including as many people in the community as possible as guests, an event timeline to guide the day, potential volunteers to help us create a successful event, a menu, a budget and a list of activities we could organize to make the day memorable. We put our plan into an online grant application and were approved to host a community block party.
After finding the location (South Arm Park), we created an event page on Facebook and handed out event flyers to local businesses and community centres. The event took place on a bright sunny day, September 20th. All guests were given names tags when they arrived. The hot dog BBQ became a full-fledged spread as guests arrived with their own food contributions of popsicles, cupcakes, fruit trays and veggie trays.
The food was a hit followed by the most memorable part of the day – the games. During set up, we noticed that the balls for the ladder ball game were tangled. Two members of the community came over to help untangle the game and chat about their summer. There were enough kids in attendance that we broke the group into four teams to take part in a relay race that included cup stacking, three legged race, along with some games we borrowed including tug of war, ladder ball, and a potato sack race. The race ended with a pinata and medals for the top team.
At one point, a part of the ladder ball game was stuck in the tree. The kids had to work together to figure out how to retrieve it and ended up creating a plan that had them physically relying on each other to solve their problem. They created a human pyramid to retrieve the ball!
Families were still chatting as we packed up the event at the end. In the week following the BBQ, we received some feedback by email from people who attended and have included some excerpts below:
“Great event put on today. It was so nice to see a group of diverse personalities mix it up! I personally enjoyed the throwback years of potato sack races! That was priceless.”
“Thank you for a great day. I think everyone had a great time and bonded quite nicely together.”