Engagement and Interaction: two best interim outcomes of water for riley

What are the most fun, interesting aspects of Water for Riley’s project plan so far? Two things: engagement and interaction. The whole project was designed to 1. engage the community, especially students, and 2. be interactive. However; plans have a tendency to stray from their intentions. How has the plan worked? Happily, in this case, the plan exceeded all aspirations.

ACAD students enthusiastically participated in the Water for Riley challenge to submit their designs for the drinking fountain. The 19 designs were then framed as posters and displayed in Hillhurst School and the Hillhurst Sunnyside Community Association (HSCA) building for two weeks each. There are plans for exhibitions in more venues around the community.

The level of engagement and interaction with the poster exhibit has been overwhelming.

Hillhurst School engagement

Hillhurst School students had first viewing of the poster exhibit. School Vice Principal, Elan, arrange for the display in the school hallway, where students passed it several times a day.

Each teacher could use the Water for Riley project and the design posters for grade appropriate learning. As an example of how the teachers engaged the elementary school students, grade six used the exhibit for the critique method of observation and testing opinions:

Grade 6 assignment to use methodology for critique of one design
Grade 6 assignment to use methodology for critique of one design
Grade six students picked a design poster to observe and answer the questions assigned
Grade six students picked a design poster to observe and answer the questions assigned
what the students liked
what the students liked in the designs
what students would liked to have seen in the designs
what students would liked to have seen in the designs
Hillhurst School student comments
Hillhurst School student comments and drinking fountain designs

Hillhurst School student Liam, and his mother Leslie, had a great discussion about the designs and what it would mean to have a drinking fountain in Riley Park.

Liam & Leslie discuss posters
Liam & Leslie discuss posters

Liam recalled the teacher brought the posters to the classroom where students passed them around and discussed them. “It was awesome, especially the animal bowls because dogs need to drink, and people take their dogs to Riley Park,” he said. Although Liam admitted to having one favourite design, if his idea were built it would be “a fountain like a pea shooter.”

Leslie added that when Water for Riley first came to her attention, her reaction was: you mean, there isn’t a drinking fountain there now? “Parks should have drinking fountains,” she said.

Community engagement is ongoing

Next, the exhibit moved to the HSCA where it hung on the wall outside the gym. Everyone, from children in day care to youths in programs, shoppers at the Farmers’ Market, and seniors playing cards, could view the posters .

Community members Fong and her sons Kai and Bo, went to the exhibit at HSCA and carefully considered each design. They thought the drinking fountain was a good idea. “A beautiful design will make Riley Park look nice so more people will visit,” said Bo.

And, Fong said, it was very cool that ordinary people in the neighbourhood took on the task of Water for Riley as volunteers. “Hillhurst Sunnyside is really open to those kinds of ideas and to saying ‘yes’ to ideas.”

But – sometimes the fountain would get dirty and perhaps people would do bad stuff to it. It was important, Kai and Bo decided, to get everyone to take ownership of Riley Park so bad stuff didn’t happen.

Kai and Bo agreed on steps they could take. “Clean it if it’s dirty. We can all do our share to take care of it. If we see someone doing bad stuff, tell them to stop. Call 911 for emergencies.”

Fong, Bo, and Kai discuss the posters
Fong, Bo, and Kai discuss the posters

Soon, they’d agreed on their favourite design, although they each preferred it in different colours.

What else is cool about Water for Riley?

Think about it. Without Water for Riley, the HSCA might have requested the City install a drinking fountain in Riley Park. If the City agreed to the request, Riley Park would have gotten a concrete block fountain of one nozzle, without regard to users’ disabilities, height differences, artistic merit to attract visitors, canine needs, or the other criteria the students considered in their thoughtful comments and designs. Instead, Riley Park will get a water feature that’s beautiful and functional.

To get involved with Water for Riley, call 403 862 1923 or email us. and please donate to our beautiful drinking fountain, whichever design it will be. Click the button to donate through the Parks Foundation, and specify your donation is for Water for Riley.

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