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Innisfail Plays it Forward for mental health

Multi-agency initiative creates a month-long feel-good sidewalk game
MVT Innisfail sidewalk game
One of the painted sidewalk games in downtown Innisfail as part of the month-long Play it Forward campaign. The initiative was created to boost and promote mental health in the community. Johnnie Bachusky/MVP Staff

INNISFAIL – If any Innisfailian has noticed many unusual paint art works on local sidewalks it’s all part of a new game that was created to make you happy.

The month-long game is the Play it Forward campaign. It is designed to encourage citizens, families and cohorts to get out and participate, as it’s proven physical activity and community engagement improves mental health.

The new initiative was created by Innisfail FCSS in partnership with the Innisfail and Area Family Resource Network, the Innisfail Public Library, the Innisfail Family Day Home Society, Innisfail Victim Services, Henday Association for Lifelong Learning, and St. Marguerite Bourgeoys Catholic School.

“Many individuals in our communities are struggling with loneliness and social isolation and this is another way to get out and participate in fun, positive activities that strives to improve mental health and well-being,” said Karen Bradbury, the town’s community and social development coordinator.

“This is to encourage people to get out, to bring something positive to the community, something that is fun and just get people out and doing something nice. It’s just another tool to encourage people to get out and be active in the community.”

Leading up to the start of the campaign on Oct. 1, volunteers, using stencils purchased in Red Deer, put games on sidewalks throughout town with easily removable environmentally-friendly paint.

“They will eventually just wash off,” said Bradbury of the paint.

Residents are now encouraged to go out, find them and experience the power of positive play with their family, friends or cohort.

“They get to see green spaces in the community, get to go to different parks or just to another area. It’s another way to explore the community and see what’s available,” said Bradbury, adding there are about a dozen painted games around town.

As citizens play the game, they are encouraged to take a photograph and post it on Facebook using #FCSSinnisfail to get their name entered into a draw to win a fun prize.

“We are hoping as people play and enjoy the game, they will encourage others to and participate, which will also add the benefit of improved mental health for their friends or their family,” said Bradbury.

The game sites include:

• Pathway between buildings on Main Street

• Dodd’s Lake pathway

• Day Home Society sidewalk

• Family Resource Network sidewalk

• Park behind the swimming pool

• Main Street – corner by sitting area

• In front of RCMP detachment

• Innisfail Public Library

• St. Marguerites Bourgeoys Catholic School

For more information on the Play it Forward campaign go to the Town of Facebook Facebook page or call Bradbury at 403-227-3376.