Chicago Blackhawks player Duncan Keith spent much of his youth growing up in Penticton, and now uses his charity Keith Relief to give back to the community.
Most recently, Keith donated a new playground to the OSNS Kinderplace Developmental Preschool program. He was in town Wednesday to officially cut the ribbon on the new play area, part of a $150,000 commitment over three years to help the facility and provide aid for families in need.
"When I found out that they needed some help to change a little bit of the structure of the playground here and with some of their facilities, I just thought it was a great opportunity to help out," Keith said.
He said being a father of a young child himself has changed his perspective on life. His son Colton attended OSNS for a time, so the facility has a special place in his heart.
"That's been the biggest sense of joy for myself, just to see and know that it's helping a lot of families and most importantly the children," Keith explained.
The kids got to meet Keith at Wednesday's event, and one little boy had a few burning questions like "How fast can you skate" and "What do you eat before playing hockey." Keith joked he had forgotten the difference between miles and kilometres since playing in the United States and couldn't answer the first question, and said while he doesn't much like broccoli, it's a good source for a lot of energy so he is always sure to include it.
The playground was specially designed to be inclusive of kids who may have developmental, motor or neurological delays, which OSNS specializes in. The ground is made of layers of thick foam to have a cushioning feel.
"Imagine you're a three-year-old and you're learning to walk, and it's harder for you than other kids, so you fall a lot. If you were a three-year-old and you fell on a surface that was hard, and it hurt, how motivated would you be to stand up again and try again with your physiotherapist?" said OSNS executive director Manisha Willms.
The specialized layers of foam aren't cheap, which is where Keith's donation was key.
"It comes at a price, that we're only able to do because of donations," Willms said. "We're just so pleased to have [Keith] engaged locally with local kids."
Keith's charity Keith Relief was helped by donations of time and materials from Wildstone in the renovation of the playground.