For me, the Wellbeing Trail was not just a design thinking project, it was a community initiative that deserved every chance to succeed. The organisers had put an incredible amount of effort in, as had the participating organisations and many volunteers. This post summarises the lead up to the event and how things went on the day.
Leading up to the event…
A week or so before event day (Saturday 20th October 2018), volunteers had gone around putting up banners and signs advertising the event, some in suburbs a few kilometres away. On the day immediately before the event, signs appeared at every stop on the trail. The Wellbeing Trail was about to become a reality!
A Facebook event page was set up, and Samford Commons published info about each stop on the trail every day for two weeks leading up to the event. At a meeting held the week before to brief representatives organisations participating in the trail, everyone was encouraged to share these posts.
About a week before the event, I was asked to design some postcards to hand out at schools and distribute to local cafes. Meanwhile, participating organisations had stuck A3 posters in their windows and informed their customers. The Village Pump had published advertisements. The trail passport/map was printed, and people were organising other items such as self-inking stamps for the passports and lottery tickets for the draw.
As I was planning to take a few photos on the day (to record the event as a visual story, and help promote any future events), I created a photography model release form, which would be needed if any of the images including people were going to be used commercially (especially if children are featured and are identifiable). It’s generally acceptable to use general event photos for editorial purposes without needing a consent form, but it’s always a good idea to ask people whether they are happy to have their photo taken, and to aim to take shots where it is harder to identify people (such as back/distant views).
Meanwhile the branded T-shirts were being custom printed by The Print Bar in Brisbane, who always do a great job (using sustainable inks and ethically sourced products), and I arranged to pick them up the day before the event (to be sure we had them in our hands). Better safe than sorry!
Concerns about the weather
The weekend before the event, certain other community events around Brisbane had been cancelled due to wet weather, which is such a pity for the organisers and participants, knowing the amount of effort that goes into organising such events. After a couple of weeks of wet weather, the day of the Wellbeing trail dawned bright and sunny, and stayed dry and warm all day. The following day saw a storm blow over in the afternoon, with heavy rain and hail, so the weather gods were certainly being kind to us! Anyway, things were looking good for the Wellbeing Trail!
On the day
From around 8am in the park, volunteers helped set up picnic tables, marquees, sound system, etc. The mini train provided by Samford Rotary turned up ready to roll, as did the free minibus provided by Grace Lutheran College. Samford Commons volunteers and people in organisations participating in the trail put on their lime green Wellbeing Trail T-shirt, so they would be instantly recognisable as being involved with the Trail.
Everything had been organised incredibly well, and the weather was warm (maybe a little too hot). Would the crowds come? I hopped on my bicycle and went around most of the trail sites to take photographs and see how things were going.
I started at the park, which had a good scattering of people, but not exactly what I would call a crowd! However, apparently it had been full of excited children half an hour earlier – they’d come for a birthday party, discovered the Kids Community Collect ‘Tinker Town’ children’s activity, and joined in! This was about 11:30am, so people were just starting to come to the park for lunch and picnics. The mini-train was doing well, picking up passengers on its route from the museum through the park and around to the shopping area. Just as I left, picnic races were starting (egg and spoon, sack races, etc) so I never found out if I could be an egg and spoon race champion!
After the park, I went to the tennis activity over the road, where the Southern Cross Tennis coach said there’d been a steady stream of people visiting and having a hit at tennis. The Pilates instructor nearby had also been quite happy with the numbers, having run two full classes, although she said numbers had dropped off now it was lunchtime, and possibly a bit too hot for people. Next I went out to the pool, where things were very quiet. The Swimfit team said very few people had been there in the first couple of hours (although I believe this improved later in the day) and this could be due to the fact they were about 1km from the village centre (although on the mini bus route). While I was there, I made myself a smoothie by pedalling the bike blender!
Back in the village, I stopped at Impact Hearing (and had a quick hearing test myself) and they said about a dozen or so people had come through so far (a lot more than would be usual for a Saturday). The manager at Snap Fitness Samford also said they had a manageable stream of people, of which about a dozen had signed up for a trial, which is a much better success rate than they would have had from a general promotion. At the local church I tried the rope labyrinth (along with some very young helpers) where the Minister said they’d had a few visitors and everyone had commented what a pleasant experience it was. Out at the Eco Corridor nature trail there had been fewer visitors, although about eight people suddenly arrived at the same time as I did! This stop also most likely suffered from being out of the village centre. Heading back to the village, I popped into the Samford Museum (which has some fascinating insights into what life used to be like) where the volunteers said they’d had a fair few people wander through. Then back at the park the Ferny Hills Girl Guides were busy with the giant Jenga and other games.
The end of the day
As the day went on, people started handing in their stamped passports at the Samford Commons check-in point. The more stamps people had, the more tickets they earned in the prize draw. Some families or individuals had been to nearly every site, others just a handful. We heard anecdotally from the bus driver that one family had asked to be dropped off at a couple of stops where they could dash in and get a stamp without doing any of the activities. Not exactly in the spirit of the event, but at least they got around the trail!
A videographer was also on hand to capture brief interviews and stories from participants (trail users and organisations).
Feedback from trail users and other stakeholders
The Samford Commons team said lots of people who came along to show their passports at the end commented on how enjoyable the trail was. I certainly saw some happy looking youngsters participating at various locations.
Some people had come to the event intentionally, while others had just happened upon it, so at this stage we can’t judge how effective the pre-event communications were. Some people said they hadn’t been sure what to expect from a wellbeing trail, so would know for next time and be keen to do it again. This is not surprising, because despite the advertisements, social media and signage explaining what the trail included, it is not a concept people had come across before.
From my perspective, there were fewer participants than I thought there would be, but some of the business owners said they would not want to have dealt with many more people on the day anyway. They said those that did come were more likely to be potential customers. The weather was possibly a limiting factor too – if people expected the event to be cancelled they may have planned other things instead.
Samford Commons plans to follow up the participating organisations to ask for their feedback, and I will be creating a short online survey to capture that. I will add the feedback to this blog. The outcome from the feedback process, together with visual and video stories gathered, will support planning of any future events or wellbeing related activities.