Meet The Tech Companies Behind The World's Largest Sandbox

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At 39 feet and 8/12 inches wide, the sandbox being built at Stanley Park tomorrow promises to break the Guinness World Record for being the largest in the world. With members of Vancouver’s tech community behind it, it’s no wonder.

The event, put on by Passage Give, is trying to give Vancouver’s summer a grand finale, bring out families to have some good ol’ fun and raise awareness around mental health in children. Founders of Passage Give, JJ MacLean and Julian DeSchutter, say it’s a topic worth setting records for.

“I think mental health is not something we talk or think about unless we think of the negative,” Julian explains, “but it’s actually something everyone has, it’s unfortunate that we just talk about the depression and anxiety.”

“We thought that sandbox was an excellent metaphor for a safe place,” JJ reveals. “In the sandbox there are no rules. Even in art class, there is something you have to build. In a sandbox there is no teacher telling you how to play or that there is a correct way. We want to create a safe place to have this discussion.

Passage Give is a social arm of Passage Labs, an emerging tech company founded by the same members. Among many volunteers from the tech sector and companies including BC Hydro and SpeakBOX involved, another championing company supporting the event in fundraising is Vancouver tech start-up, Chimp.

Designed as a platform for both charities and donors, Chimp allows users to donate on their own terms. Users can choose to be anonymous, or share on all social platforms, or crowdfund with a group of friends for a charities in Canada of their choice.

“What I like about JJ and Julian is that these guys are doing things that make charity accessible and participatory. It’s not just a pamphlet in the mail that just says “give”, it’s an event that gets people out,” CEO of Chimp, John Bromley emphasizes, “I have two kids that are going to roll around in the sand and build crappy sand castles – and I’ll be no better – but even if my kids are older, I’d still be there and we’d understand it’s for a greater cause. It’s a much more sustainable and friendly way and less about a hard ask. If it weren’t for events like these we wouldn’t be able to show what that means.”

100% of proceeds from Sandbox will be going to The Ketley Mental Health Resource Center and Variety Children’s Charity. Some other activities in the crowd includes mini golf, kids yoga by lululemon, as well as a bouncy castle. The event will include talks from Director of Focus Foundation, Bob Kissner; Founder of The Kelty Patrick Dennehy Foundation, Ginny Dennehy; and Harvard-trained and Canadian best-selling author, Dr. Shimi Kang.

“On a more personal level, I know mental health to be an important issue,” John continues. “I’m about 36, deep into charity and remember when cancer used to be this “sickness” you never talked about. People like me see that mental health is exactly where cancer was 20 or 30 years ago. Cancer now is talked about, fundraised and discussed all over the place; people are way more extrovert about it. Mental health need to get there.”

“We’re literally just a bunch of kids playing around. It’s nice to see that we can do this on a shoe string budget,” Julian smiles. “People need to take an unconventional approach to a problem. Just the nature of who JJ and I are, we just wanted to have fun with it. Even if people don’t care about mental health, we’ll see you there and you can hear us talk about a really cool and super important topic.”

The World’s Largest Sandbox

  • Date: Saturday, August 16t, 2014
  • Time: 10am to 6pm
  • Location: Ceperley Field at Second Beach, Stanley Park
  • Benefit: To raise funds and awareness around children’s mental health

Featured image: Sand box via Shutterstock

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Romila Barryman is a mad-scientist of sorts. She experiments with words, concocts diabolical phrases and explores tech like it is territory to be conquered. Her current lab experiments can be seen as founder of the Tech section for VancityBuzz, Lighthouse Labs Alumni and Full Stack Developer.
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