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Device-free play zone available for kids at New Horizon Mall

A new attraction at New Horizon Mall in Balzac is aiming to provide a device-free play area for young children to socialize.
A new entertainment centre has opened in New Horizon Mall, focused on seperating children from devices and growing their socializing skills.

A new attraction at New Horizon Mall in Balzac is aiming to provide a device-free play area for young children to socialize in.

The new attraction, located on the second floor of the Asian bazaar-themed shopping centre, is called Mini-town.

“I had some ideas I wanted to do to help keep kids entertained,” said Han Liu, who is the owner, designer, and builder of Mini-town. “We just wanted to do something that is a little bit different.”

According to a press release, Mini-town facilitates the adaptation of a natural social network for young kids. The model encourages socialization as the participants interact with other kids while “running’ the town,” the release stated.

The entertainment centre, which is aimed at preschool-aged children, is a miniature community featuring a fire hall, police station, supermarket, and beauty salon.

“The mini-theme facilitates the adaption of a natural social network for new and younger generations,” the release stated.

The device-free zone is part of New Horizon Mall’s anchor tenant Sky Castle, which is one of the largest family entertainment centres in the Metro Calgary region. According to the release, Sky Castle, which opened earlier this spring, occupies approximately 34,000 square feet of space on the mall’s second floor. It features a climbing zone, mini-carousel, snow castle, ferris wheel, donut slide, toddler jumping zone and other interactive sections.

A key component of Mini-town is the attraction’s focus on being a “device-free” space. Liu said as a father of two, it is often a struggle to get his kids away from their phones, iPads and other devices.

“They are just way too powerful,” he said. “The whole point [of Mini-town] is to pull kids back from devices and teach them the importance of socializing.”

Having been open for a little over a month, Liu said the majority of New Horizon Mall's guests have enjoyed Mini-town, as it provides something new and different.

“We are getting a lot of positive feedback,” he said.

Mini-town’s main goal at the end of the day, according to Liu, is to give children something fun to do. He added moving forward, they plan on collaborating with local organizations to provide learning opportunities for kids who attend.

“In the long run, we do hope we can connect the community and have them bring their own knowledge and experience to teach,” he said.

Sky Castle is targeted at kids 10 years old and under, but kids over 10 are welcome too. Admission prices range from $13 during the week for kids aged one to three, to $20 for ages four and older on the weekend.

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Jordan Stricker,
Follow me on Twitter @Jay_Strickz