Wellesley Township will grace TV screens again when local kids build yet another playground for the TVOKids series Giver, first produced by Sinking Ship Entertainment in 2011. That year a Hawkesville playground was built for the same show.
The new episode will feature six Linwood kids aged 7-13 as they explore how to organize and build a playground in their community with the help of a professional carpenter and designer. The kids have just three days to help with the build and enhancement of the play space.
“Wellesley has applied to be part of the show again and we are happy to go back,” said Rennata Lopez, one of the producers of the show.
Sinking Ship received more than 100 submissions from various communities and it was Wellesley’s cozy small-town feel that attracted producers back to the township, Lopez added.
“When we did it in Hawkesville literally everybody in the community came out, it was wonderful.”
On May 22 producers visited Linwood for a casting session with the kids. Armed with paper and markers, they helped the group to come up with an idea for a “fantasy castle” theme for the playground behind the Linwood Community Centre, Lopez explained.
“The Hawkesville build was great for everyone involved,” said Wellesley Township director of facilities Brad Voisin.
“The kids and community were heavily involved. I applied for the opportunity to have [the playground] spruced up and added to. It’s not that it was really bad, but it is aging and I know our residents and renters would appreciate some new equipment.”
As the television crew works on production and some filming (they paid Linwood a visit on June 11), the kids are helping to raise money for the event. Sinking Ship contributes $10,000 to the playgrounds they help build but it’s up to the community to raise the rest.
“We don’t have a final project cost at this time, as the details of the build are still being sorted out,” said Voisin.
The TVOKids series shows how groups of six children design, build or refurbish much-needed playgrounds for their communities. Since the 2011 debut of the show, the Hawkesville build and 12 other episodes have captured the hearts of many audiences and industry professionals. It was nominated for several Canadian Screen Awards, recently won a 2013 Youth Media Alliance Award of Excellence for best television program, and enjoyed a spot as one of the most-watched shows on the network. Sinking Ship producer Kristin McGregor also received an award for her role in the show.
“It’s a really good show about bringing communities together and something that kids can watch with their parents, it sort of appeals to all ages. It’s really about bringing the community together to teach kids to volunteer and to be a part of their community,” she said.
The build, which is open to willing volunteers and the public, is scheduled for July 25-27. The grand opening and ribbon cutting happens on the third day of the build with speeches from the kids and local officials.