The City of Edmonton recently launched a program that recognized child-friendly spaces/businesses. A few months ago someone came in and put up this sticker that I photographed for this blog post. We are, and I trust, will always be, a Child-Friendly Space.
In early June a photograph and program coordinator dropped around and photograph several aspects of our business that makes our business a Child-Friendly Space. On June 13th, 2018, we were invited to participate in the launch of the campaign. We attended this ceremony.
You can find out more about the program by visiting the City of Edmonton Child-Friendly webpage.
A Child-Friendly Space
We did not have a consultant or designer that designed our Child-Friendly Space. It was part of the initial concept of the store back in 1991. My thinking went something like this – when people go shopping they take their children along and children are quite often not overly interested in the same things as their parent(s). I wanted to give the children something that they would enjoy when they were in the store.
I set up a play area for them to play/be in when their parent(s) were looking around the store. This was not a new innovation or concept, McDonald’s and IKEA have successfully incorporated Child-Friendly Spaces in their business models for a long time. But it was a bookstore in Vancouver that I visited in the early 90s that inspired me to incorporate the play area into the store. It gave me an example of a small Child-Friendly Space that I could relate to.
I was also blessed that at the time my partner, Pam, had a daughter (Bree) that loved to play and I saw what components might make a good space for a Child-Friendly Space. On re flection, I think it would have been wise of me to have asked Bree to help me design and build it.
In every evolution of the store, we had a Child-Friendly Space built in, including the store downtown.
What makes our business a Child-Friendly Space
Our attitude is a large component of being a Child-Friendly Space. Children should not be just tolerated by businesses. They are learning sponges and they almost have an infinite capacity to play. We embrace an celebrate that capacity.
- a designated play area stocked with stuffies, Lego, repurposed phones, cell phones, cameras, etc.
- free fruit snacks
- child-sized shopping carts
- a child-friendly attitude
- breastfeeding armchair in a quiet corner of the store
- a stepping stool in the washroom so that they can reach the taps and wash their own hands at the sink
Our child-friendly space provides options for children and families. This is important to us because it makes the child happier. I believe in helping to make healthy and happy children. Children will always try to naturally find a way to have fun, to play, to explore, to engage with their environment, etc. I want to make them feel comfortable and safe to do so in our business.
I can’t think of watching a more magical human experience than when a child slips into their play dimension and play. They can do anything in this dimension. They are focused and happy.
We try to make the shopping experience pleasant for the whole family because if the parent is stressed out then the child(ren) are negatively affected. We have parents that shop for over an hour. They feel comfortable and know that their child is safe and engaged. They are within earshot of their child(ren) if the child(ren) are in the play area (we are not a large store).
Thank you to the City of Edmonton for recognizing that this is an important aspect of making healthy cities and communities and for valuing our contribution.
Welcome to our Child-Friendly Space!