The Brawn Family Foundation Rotary Park is a first-of-its-kind space in Calgary designed to promote mental health and wellness. Created in partnership with Parks Foundation Calgary, the Brawn Family park is next to The Summit: Marian & Jim Sinneave Centre for Youth Resilience in the Northwest community of Hounsfield Heights-Briar Hill, and will provide families visiting the centre a place to reflect and connect with nature.
“In the last few years, we’ve seen a spike in park use,” says Parks Foundation CEO Sheila Taylor, who spearheaded the project. “More and more people are seeing parks and nature as an essential part of their well-being, but many parks are not inclusive, which means that not everyone feels welcome or safe. There is an opportunity to create multi-use spaces that appeal to more people, whether it’s teen girls, seniors, or equity-seeking groups.”
The inclusivity and nurturing aspects of the Brawn Family park feature across several zones that provide different engagement opportunities. A basketball court and climbing structure offer fun physical activities, while an infinity walking loop and swing benches encourage visitors to slow down and be mindful. The pavilion structure and curved seating promotes social interaction, while still offering spots for solitude or private conversation. Each feature of the park is aimed towards providing safe spaces, whether users are alone or with family, friends or those going through similar experiences.
Taylor adds that materials used throughout the park were also chosen to create multi-sensory experiences. Plants and landscaping features provide calming benefits by engaging our senses of sight, sound and smell. With more than 60 trees and hundreds of different types of plants, the park is designed to invoke the tranquility of the natural world.
“Nature and physical activity are incredibly important for mental health and wellness,” says Taylor. “We heard repeatedly that teens wanted an outdoor space to disconnect from urban life and technology in order to reconnect with nature and other people. This park will be a place to retreat and refresh.”