Kids in Motion has been making a difference in Port McNeill since February 2016.
Matt Martin, secretary for the non-profit society, gave all the credit to his partner, Lani Siminoff, for the idea.
“After we had our son, there just wasn’t much for them to do in the winter,” he said. “So one day we were sitting around having dinner and she said we needed something like an indoor play centre, and why don’t we start one ourselves.”
After that, they sat down and invited some friends to get involved, formed a group of directors and started fundraising in March.
“We started sending out letters asking for donations,” Martin said. “It was local fundraising — we sent letters to individuals and businesses in Port McNeill and even to Port Hardy.”
The group also raised money by holding events like a ladies movie night at the Gate House Theatre, a petting zoo during OrcaFest, a hot dog fundraiser outside the IGA and even started a gofundme campaign online.
Kids in Motion’s indoor play centre officially opened its doors in November, and Martin was proud to say the business is sustainable and has had more than 1,400 kids come through its doors in the last five months.
When asked how much work went into the play centre becoming a reality, Martin said it was “an insane amount of time,” adding he usually spends two or three hours every day on the project, “and everybody else involved is very busy working on the project, too.”
Martin said the group really cares about what’s happening in Port McNeill. “We knew if we wanted to see a change here we had to take it upon ourselves to make that change happen.”
Kids in Motion is 100 per cent volunteer based. They currently have 32 declared volunteers, a few of which are North Island Secondary School students.
“I think the biggest thing for me is just knowing we’re making a difference,” said Martin. “I think we all have different motivations for wanting to do this, but for me personally my favourite thing is just seeing kids having fun and enjoying the space.”
Martin said all the money that comes in through the play centre goes back into new projects at Kids in Motion.
They have a makerspace and toy library which will be opening next door to the play centre June 1 and a summer camp coming up that will be running in July and August.
“We’ve got $22,000 confirmed for the summer camp to help cover the costs involved,” said Martin, adding they will be hiring camp counsellors and also bringing in guest facilitators “to do really cool activities with the kids.”
When asked if he had any advice for people wanting to make change happen in their local community, he said “go for it — get people involved because you can’t do it alone, collaborate with the community. It’s just a matter of putting the time into it.”
Martin said Kids in Motion is always looking for people who want to join the society, and the more people that they have join, “then there’s endless ideas as to what can be done. A lot of people have ideas and dreams about visions for the future, but they aren’t entirely sure how to make those changes happen.”
He added residents can make things happen by joining groups or going to town council meetings and providing input.
“At the end of the day, it shouldn’t be one persons vision for anything, it should be a collective voice.”
Martin thinks the town Port McNeill has the potential to be so much more than it already is.
“We’ve got the potential to make it the best place on the island for families, for businesses, and to just have more prosperity and improved health for the people who live here.”
For more information on Kids in Motion’s indoor play centre rates and hours of operation, please check out their facebook page: www.facebook.com/pmkidsinmotion/.