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Growing Up Whistler

Whistler may be the ultimate playground for the rich and famous, but at the heart of the community can oftentimes be found in the sand and on the slide at the real playgrounds



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Doti Niedermayer has been the executive director of the Whistler Arts Council (WAC) since 2002. She is particularly excited about this year's closing act, Ache Brasil, a capoeira performance group. And she says not to miss the augmented programming in the Whistler Olympic Plaza in the village that will be put on in conjunction with the festival.

Entry at the door is $8 for children, and parents' entry is by donation. The entry fee does not include all workshops but does include all the main stage shows, roaming performers, and free drop-in arts activities like patio stone making that will be ongoing throughout the day.

"You could hang out all day and have fun and never take a workshop," says Niedermayer.

The expansion of the Whistler Children's Arts Festival is just one example of how life in Whistler has changed for families since Howe moved here in 1980. Life in general has gotten a whole lot easier. Moms no longer have to push their strollers on the highway; they can use the Valley Trail system. There are stores that carry kids clothing and necessities. Programming abounds for kids. Sometimes, in fact, the problem is that there are too many options: gymnastics, swimming, martial arts, skiing, Nordic skiing, mountain biking, sailing, biathlon, dance, musical theatre, soccer, Girl Guides, Boy Scouts. These are but a few of the extra-curricular activities available for Whistler children. But in other ways, the same issues raise their heads as they did in 1980. Sports weigh heavily as a priority in Whistler. It can still take work to ensure that a child has a balanced outlook, especially in the arts and culture sector.


Sometimes Whistler is too small


But even Whistler can be too small, especially when raw talent and drive needs to be honed.

Some children just can't get what they need here, especially once they begin to excel in a sport or activity.

Howe's family is an example. Her two girls stayed in Whistler and both successfully completed high school and went on to university and jobs but her son wanted to pursue hockey at a higher level than he was able to here. At age 15 he left for Burnaby. While it was tough to see him go, Howe feels it was the right decision for their family. Now, after four years playing junior hockey in Kamloops, her son Michael McCance will play for Thompson Rivers University for his first year.