Anita Grace and her daughter, Miya, from Byron Ave are on a mission. This summer, they will visit every one of the 10 wading pools and three splash pads Kitchissippi has to offer.
With 13 locations in total, they have had a lot of splashing and swimming ahead of them. But armed with sunhats, swimsuits and snacks, they’re ready for the water.
Sitting poolside in the shade at Hampton Park’s little blue watering hole as Miya dips her feet, Anita scans her mental checklist. “This makes for number 11. We’ve only got two left.”
Earlier this year, the Grace family was blessed with a second daughter. Toting around a beautiful bundle of a baby – whom Miya explains is only “zero” – Anita wanted to make sure her eldest still had a special summer. Here’s how:
“At the beginning of the season, the Kitchissippi Times had a map of all the wading pools and splash pads in Kitchissippi. I cut it out and put it on the fridge and started our Kitchissippi Wading Pool Challenge. Every time we go to a new pool, Miya puts a sticker on the map. It’s been a way to have a goal this summer and it gets us out and about. We usually go to Iona Park and it’s a great pool, but it’s nice to check out other places.” While Miya keeps track on the fridge, Anita has been keeping track on the computer, documenting their experiences on her blog (anitaxpress.blogspot.ca).
It’s a good idea to play tourist in your hometown; there is always something new to discover and, as the Grace family has found, communities tend to show their true colours in their parks.
From African drumming rehearsals near the LaRoche Splash Pad to ice cream cookies from the market next to the Parkdale Pool, each park has something different to offer.
“This pool challenge has also been a great way to get us plugged into other community groups. Miya has been to several community events at the pools, and I’ve connected with other community organizers,” says Anita. “And it’s been fun, because we’ll go to a new pool and find out that’s the local spot of some of her friends from school or other groups.”
With the typically erratic weather we’re always surprised by here in Ottawa, some days are perfect for a cool dip while others a little too chilly, but there is still fun to be had in our parks. “On cool days when Miya doesn’t want to be in the pool for long, she often enjoys playing on the play structures or doing a craft with the lifeguards. The city lifeguards are really great with kids and the craft tables at the pools are fantastic!” praises Anita.
The neighbourhood pools start to close their pipes in a only few weeks but with only two pools left on their list, this intrepid team are sure to reach their goal before the end of the wadding season. After all their exploring to date, Iona Park is still Miya’s favorite.