When the COVID-19 Public Health restrictions tightened in the fall of 2020, the Riverdale Community Centre had to be temporarily closed. This meant no hockey or curling, activities the community relies on to keep active in the colder months. While this was disappointing for the community, Laura Gill, manager of Community services for the municipality of Rivers, saw it as an opportunity to implement a new winter activity: Crokicurl!
Crokicurl is the combination of two classic Canadian games, curling and crokinole. The game was invented right here in Manitoba by Public City Architecture. The game takes the classic crokinole board and makes it life-sized, replacing the wooden board and discs with a sheet of ice and curling rocks. The object of the game is to get your curling rocks into the center of the board while knocking your opponent’s rocks out of play. Laura first saw the game being set up at the Forks in Winnipeg a few years ago and was intrigued, saying ”it was a very interesting and innovative project that we could potentially take on for the community,” and with the Public Health orders shifting the Recreation Commission’s focus to outdoor recreation, it seemed the perfect time. To get the project off the ground, they applied for and were granted funding through Healthy Together Now with the community goals of encouraging safe physical activity outdoors and reducing the isolation experienced by many due to the pandemic.
The staff at Riverdale Municipality helped to construct the project in Millennium Park in Rivers. A shed was built to house the equipment, and a large sign with the rules of the game was installed. The game does not require extra equipment be brought from home, and it is free to play, making it usable by anyone. “I wanted to find something that would be accessible for any and all bodies” said Laura, and the project achieved that goal. Crokicurl is easy to learn and playable by anyone, no matter your age or skill level.
“It was very neat to see the game come alive,” said Laura, as she saw the ice being used daily and received messages from community members expressing their appreciation for the project. The Recreation Commission even leant their project concept to a neighbouring community so they could set up their own game. The project was not only beneficial for the community but also for the Recreation Commission team. Laura recounted the first time she and other staff members saw the ice being used: “One little boy got his rock in the center mark and he went up and gave … his dad a big hug.” This was the first sense of human connection they had seen in a long time and, as Laura explained, “Our staff has not been able to enjoy being in the rink or surrounded by people… that sense of accomplishment was really good for them.”
Interested in receiving funding for a project focused on healthy eating, physical activity, mental well-being or tobacco prevention and reduction in your community? Visit Prairie Mountain Health’s ‘Healthy Together Now’ page for more information on eligibility and how to apply.