Fun for All: An abundance of fun and recreation options await

One thing the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us is our deep need for connection and activities that improve mental health. We are a social species and isolation is difficult for everyone. Being able to dialogue with others is essential to our well-being, just as much as our physical activity. All the better when these two things converge.

“I sincerely believe that recreation is an essential service,” says Trish Conley-Knight, Recreation, Culture and Heritage Manager for the City of Huntsville. “Through the pandemic lockdowns, we’ve really learned how isolation has had, and continues to have, such a negative impact on people’s lives.”

This has made the municipality’s recreation options especially valuable when restrictions have been lifted enough to allow the indoor track to open or other programs to continue. “We saw how important free use of the track was for people to get out and actually see another person, even if it meant staying six feet away – that human interaction was so essential for the people’s mental health as well as their physical health,” notes Conley-Knight.

Canada Summit Center’s indoor trail provides year-round sheltered walking (Town of Huntsville)

And now, as we emerge from this pandemic, the city’s recreation programs are returning to full capacity with fun new ways to connect and get active.

Fun for all ages

Among the city’s leisure options, there really is something for everyone.

“We offer programs for all ages. And while the pool and arenas offer plenty of athletic opportunities, we also offer a variety of activities that encompass mind-body connections, recreation, and creative endeavours,” says Conley-Knight.

For example, city staff work with the Huntsville Art Society to develop artistic and creative programs. And the trend toward outdoor programming, made even more important by the pandemic, will continue.

“As protocols begin to loosen, we still have the safety of the public and our staff in mind, and part of that is the trend of taking recreation outdoors as well,” says Conley-Knight.

Your unique place of sports and leisure for young people

If there’s an activity your child is interested in, chances are you’ll find it at the Town of Huntsville.

March Break is almost here, and kids up to age 12 can make new friends and try new things at Summit Center Day Camp, including crafts, co-op games and activities outdoors. Or take advantage of the extended drop-in hours during March Break and take your kids skating or swimming indoors mid-day.

The fun continues beyond March Break with a variety of activities for youngsters. “We have tons of youth sports programs this spring,” says Conley-Knight. “Everything from learning to run, to indoor basketball and pickleball, to ultimate Frisbee and flag football.” New this year is Friday Night Sports, where you can introduce your child to a range of sports and activities, without the competition. Or check out the arts and crafts options for a “look what I made” pride.

Public skating is offered until March Break (Town of Huntsville)

Not just for kids

Kids aren’t the only ones with fun new activities to try. In addition to the city’s popular suite of aquafitness and recreational classes, like line dancing and ukulele lessons, there are also new fitness and yoga classes.

For music lovers, the weekly walk-in jam session has recently moved to Partners Hall and will occasionally take place on the Algonquin Theater stage. “That atmosphere really enhanced this program,” says Conley-Knight.

If you have a green thumb or want to grow one, check out the virtual gardening series and learn how to grow, care for and harvest your own food.

Healthy and active aging

Activities for older adults have never been greater, and City staff continue to provide a host of options for adults 55 and older.

Among the biggest changes in 2022 is the integration of the Club 55 and City of Huntsville seniors programs. Club 55 will move its digs to the Active Living Center later this year, a move that will allow the City to offer even more programs for its older residents.

“We want to make it a positive process,” says Conley-Knight. “Our goal is to try to really mix the 55 Club membership with the older adults who come to the Active Living Center. It’s really exciting for everyone involved, because it means more opportunities in terms of leisure programs for everyone. It’s more social for everyone, and they have more choices. Maybe they want to explore new volunteer opportunities or join our line dancing programs if they haven’t done so before. Or maybe there’s a new art program they want to try.

A variety of activities for the over 55s are available at the Active Living Center (Town of Huntsville)

Affordable, accessible and engaging

“We’re affordable and accessible,” Conley-Knight says of the many low-cost programs available. “And we really understand the importance of social engagement. It is something that is more in mind now. We are in the process of purchasing furniture for the Active Living Center so people can just sit down and socialize. It’s really essential as we move away from COVID.

And you can’t beat free⁠ – the indoor walking track remains accessible to everyone at no cost, all year round.

For more information and to register for programs, visit huntsville.ca.

“Arts, culture, heritage, recreation — all of that — allows people to connect with what they love to do, what they’re passionate about, and that’s what I think is the key to quality of life,” says Conley-Knight.

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