In the Salmo Valley Youth & Community Centre, kids toss basketballs. Some shimmy hula hoops around their waists. It’s the place to go to play ultimate frisbee, or for seniors to take fitness classes. There are youth drop-ins and professional development day camps. As part of a former high school, the gym is a huge space frequented by people of all ages. Now, thanks to two upgrades, the place is even more usable and inviting.

Portable Dividers

Step one was to divvy up the spacious gym “so there was more opportunity for multiple programs to be happening at once,” says Laurie MacDonald, Centre Coordinator. Before, even small groups using the gym meant the space was inaccessible to everyone else. This issue was particularly noticeable to the many youth basketball players. “Their drop-in would potentially get cut because another renter was using it.”

The solution was a set of portable dividers. The Salmo Valley Youth & Community Centre Society purchased these with a grant from the Trust’s Basin PLAYS Initiative, which provides resources and support to help kids get active and lead healthy lifestyles.

Now, basketball players and others can still use the gym when other events are happening on the other side. One young player, Jesse, says, “We are stoked that we can now play more basketball because of the gym dividers. Before we would have our times cancelled so other groups could use the gym.”

MacDonald also sees the broader benefits for local youth: “It’s creating more opportunities for them to be active and take part in the activities that they love.”

A New Drinking Fountain

Step two was a drinking fountain. MacDonald is very descriptive about the need: “The drinking fountain that was in the hallway was quite old and dysfunctional and kind of gross, so no one used it.” The bathroom sinks didn’t fit water bottles well. One boy even went outside to fill his bottle with snow.

It was the youth themselves who came up with the idea of buying a drinking fountain/water bottle filling station. They and all gym users can now adequately refresh themselves while being active. “It’s so used right now,” says MacDonald. “It’s amazing.”

As a bonus, there are positive impacts on the environment. The station records each time someone fills a water bottle, which it then translates into how many single-use bottles have been kept out of the landfill. After only a few days, there were 35 bottles saved. Now, it’s inching toward 600. “It’s pretty significant, considering it’s only been a few months.”

MacDonald and Jesse aren’t the only people excited about these improvements, which have paved the way for even more satisfied gym users. “We’re getting tons of feedback,” MacDonald says. “People are really pleased.”