The community of Hawkesville has been chosen as one of 13 Ontario communities to receive a complete playground makeover as part of a new television series to be aired on TV Ontario.
The program, known as Giver, will feature six 7-11 year-old kids in the community who must work together to reclaim and enhance a playground space. They must decide on what equipment to keep and what to scrap, what pieces to add and what murals to paint, and they need to find out what their community wants – in just three days.
The show will be hosted by a professional carpenter and a trained artist to help the kids with their planning.
“We partnered with the Ontario Parks Association, and we put out the call for submissions and weren’t even sure what we were going to get,” said Kristen McGregor, the creative producer for Giver, produced by Toronto-based Sinking Ship Entertainment, which has produced 10 other series’ which can be seen in over 130 countries, including “This is Daniel Cook” and “Dino Dan.”
The company received more than 60 submissions for their latest project, which McGregor described as “Extreme Makeover: Playground Edition,” referencing the popular ABC reality show hosted by Ty Pennington.
McGregor said Hawkesville was selected as one of the 13 finalists based on the close-knit community, and the fact that the playground at the community centre was in dire need of replacement, which was also the reason why Wellesley contacted Sinking Ship to be involved with the production in the first place.
“Some of the playground is from the ’50s, when it was the old school,” said Brad Voisin, director of recreation for Wellesley Township. “We’ve removed what we should have, and really, the majority of it should be gone anyway.”
Voisin was the one who pitched the town of Hawkesville to Sinking Ship, and agreed that it was the farming community element that likely drew the show to the town.
“It was exactly what they were looking for,” he said.
In fact, show producers have decided to build on the concept of Hawkesville as a farming community by building a barn-themed playground.
The series covers the core subjects of science, technology, engineering and math for the kids, it popularizes civic engagement and gives them a sense of ownership over serious change in their community, as well as promotes physical activity and showcasing destinations within Ontario to the rest of Canada.
“We have all the volunteers, and a contractor as well that helps guide the kids through the process, and we want to show kids that they can affect change and have the power to do that,” said McGregor.
Sinking Ship has dedicated $10,000 in cash to the project but is still looking for donations of materials and labour to help complete the project, and the six lucky participants have yet to be selected.
“The big thing is they want kids that are going to be very active in front of the camera, very loud and won’t stop talking,” Voisin laughed, adding that the town’s participation in the show should be good for Hawkesville and the township as a whole.
“The big thing is it’s going to be on TV Ontario. They figure 120,000 viewers [tune in], so we’re going to put Wellesley Township and Hawkesville across the country, which I think is very beneficial.”
Any kids interested in participating in the show should email McGregor at email@example.com and be prepared to submit a video with their application. Likewise, anyone from the community interested in volunteering or donating building materials can email McGregor or contact Brad Voisin at the township.