The Greatest Game of Tag

The Greatest Game of Tag

Tag: a childhood game of playfulness, speed and cunning. Pouncing out from behind door frames and fences, bounding across open spaces, grass stained knees, all accompanied by screeches of laughter and cries of ‘you’re it’. These are also things I associate with Playcentre.

It makes perfect sense then that, as part of the recent Playcentre Awareness Week celebrations, the Canterbury Playcentre Association constructed the Greatest Game of Tag. Anna Steel from CPA filled me in on some of the highlights from this incredible event.

The Greatest Game of Tag involved participants travelling from Playcentre to Playcentre across Canterbury, beginning in Kaikoura on the 5th of March and finishing in Akaroa on the 18th of March. For these few weeks, from before daylight until the early evening, Playcentre members walked, cycled, ran, bused, scootered and ferried to meet, eat with, befriend, and most importantly, tag, each other in a celebration of everything that is Playcentre.

For each centre involved there were different highlights. For some it was getting the whole centre participating, for others it was the opportunity to have a few more dads ‘tag’ along. Playcentre graduates were welcomed back to join in the fun, some even missing school to help. “An afternoon Moa hunt from Lyttleton Street to Landsdowne Terrace saw many past Playcentre kids involved”, Anna explained. And the changeable autumn weather didn’t always help the game. “Halswell Playcentre graduates toughed it out walking in the rain to Prebbleton”, Anna continued

Perhaps the most important aspect of the game was the opportunity for a Playcentre to meet a neighbour. This happened at the end of each leg of the game, when the tag was completed and the next centre set off. This often involved shared kai, or a waiata to send the walkers on their way. Within the city there are few opportunities for centres to come together, so these meetings were a special occurrence.

For the staff at the Canterbury Playcentre Association, like Anna, who were heavily involved in the set-up and running of the event, the game had some unforeseen and awesome outcomes. Anna mentions visiting centres that she’d never previously been to, meeting people that she’d only communicated with via email, and team building as an association. “Our strategic goals (to) build relationships, grow capacity and span boundaries were all strengthened during The Greatest Game of Tag. I’d imagine we will continue on this high for a long while yet.”

Such a large event also provided magnificent opportunities to connect with members of the community beyond Playcentre. Anna mentions the involvement  of Total Traffic Management, who provided the logistical support, in particular. “Dorothy, Dave, Sam and Gabby have been amazing; the generosity and getting behind this event has been amazing. We would not have been able to complete this event without these guys and we will be forever grateful.”

There were a handful of individuals along the way who worked hard to overcome adversity, meet their own fitness goals, or achieve significant personal milestones. “We supported Becs from Leithfield to complete an epic 16.9 km run for the first time. Andrea from Rolleston challenged herself with a gutsy 10km in less that 1 hour 15 minutes but managed to complete it in only 1 hour and 4 minutes. The team from Ashley went off road with little Sam to run 15 kilometres on shingle and in intense heat. Sam supported on a bike and in the buggy”.

Another goal set by the association was to raise money for Variety - the Children’s Charity. The fundraising efforts are ongoing, so we are still unsure about the total amount raised, but some Playcentres have already made significant contributions with the help of their communities. Anna mentions that “Leithfield have had an amazing response from the community, with several businesses sponsoring the keen runners. This little community have raised almost $1000 to date”.

Getting out and about in the community also creates many opportunities for people to learn more about Playcentre and what it stands for. From travelling through neighbourhoods draped in fluorescent orange vests, to the resulting social media exposure, articles and images in the media, there were countless ways in which the event got people talking about Playcentre. “This event has given us some very positive exposure to the wider world. We have had people comment about this event who have never heard of, or been involved in, Playcentre before”.

In so many ways, The Greatest Game of Tag helped individuals, centres and the Canterbury Playcentre Association to challenge themselves and achieve something significant. It was a true celebration of all the great things that Playcentre stands for.

Frances Martin

Posted: Monday 3 April 2017