One day. Eight playhouses. Forty participants. Despite the cloudy skies, teams from Innomar Strategies and John Deere Financial were all smiles as they competed in Habitat HM’s annual Playhouse Build Challenge. They battled it out, head-to-head, for bragging rights of claiming first place.
Mini homes for Habitat’s youngest homeowners
The mission of the Playhouse Build Challenge is simple: cater a home to the tastes of Habitat’s youngest homeowners. Teams put their everything into bringing children’s wildest dreams to life in an ideal secret hideaway.
This Playhouse Build featured eight teams in total; four teams of five from Innomar and four teams of five from John Deere. Each team was randomly given one of four themes, so each team was competing directly against their opposition’s playhouse of the same theme.
The teams were tasked with bringing their designated theme to life and during judging they were given the opportunity to pitch their playhouse to the judges.
Explore the world
There’s a great big world out there, and these teams are tasked with fitting it all within one little playhouse. When inside this hideaway, children should be able to feel the unique magic from different countries around the world, making it both whimsical and educational.
Pitch: “We’re a team of five ladies who work in oncology, so it was really nice to have a day of teambuilding, as we work in a high-stress environment with cancer patients every day. Three out of the five of us are moms, so we put ourselves in the perspective of the kids and what they’d like to see in a playhouse. There are a lot of different graphics and colours. We also wanted to keep it educational, with the continents (on the roof) and some locations listed on the inside.”
Pitch: “I’m a (child) that wants to see the world. What better way to see the world than through John Deere? Diversity is the theme of our company, so we wanted to show… that we’re a diverse and global company… and of course we had to get some John Deere colours in there.”
Disney World is the most magical place to be and this playhouse is the official home for all things Disney. From Mickey and Minnie to Buzz Lightyear, a child should feel right at home with all of their favourite characters from the big screen right inside their playhouse.
Pitch: Many recycled materials were used to build this playhouse, including the mini garage made from items found within the team members’ homes and the little car that previously belonged to another child. The team built a kitchen inside the playhouse, with the stove made from an old bedside table and stools upholstered with Disney fabric, featuring matching curtains.
“Anything is possible if you believe in yourself and your dreams.”
Pitch: “Why have a happy time when you can have a magical time? I’m proud to present to you, the newest attraction from Disney, live in Oakville, Ontario, in association with Habitat for Humanity and John Deere Canada: the Habitat Kingdom.”
Under the sea
There’s a colourful world under the sea that’s just begging to be explored. This playhouse should transport you right beneath the waves, leaving only the snorkelling gear up to your imagination. Whether it features the swirling colours of the sea or the playful creatures that live within it, children will surely want to dive right in.
Pitch: This team started off their pitch with a choreographed routine to Baby Shark, handing out leis to all the judges and inviting them to try their snacks from the sea (assorted candies, including Swedish Fish).
“Everyone deserves a house; big kids, but especially the little ones. Our playhouse is where kids can swim into their imagination and creativity and they won’t be crabby. Inside the playhouse we’ve painted rainbows, blue skies and plenty of sunshine. Big fish or little fish, they’ll have a whale of a time!”
Pitch: The theme song “Under the Sea” from Disney’s The Little Mermaid rang out before this team started their pitch.
“Welcome to our playhouse under the sea that we built for Arielle’s best friend… it’s completed in all the different colours you’d find under the sea. It is of course a bit more rustic, living under the sea things aren’t going to be quite even. If you look inside, we’ve completed it with a treasure chest filled with some jewels from Arielle, as well as some snorkel kits and fishing gear so that the (child) can go and hangout with their friends (under the sea).”
If there’s one thing kids love without a doubt, it’s video games. The builder’s mission with this theme is to create a playhouse that will unglue any child from their spot before the screen and enjoy their brought-to-life video game outdoors.
Pitch: “If you keep nagging your kid to get off that screen time and get outside to enjoy the great outdoors, for a very, very low cost of just $100, you can bring the best of both worlds to your backyard for your little kid. Here we have an interactive, video game themed playhouse, complete with a chalkboard, a target board and a foosball table.”
Pitch: “Minecraft was our inspiration for the whole theme… we went with Minecraft not only because kids love games but because it’s a great game to build skills… We thought what would be more fitting than to build a theme that’s all about building.”
Equipped with their magnifying glasses (to ensure attention to detail), their nylon sleeves (for performing a splinter test) and their judging criteria, the judges set to work.
The playhouses were judged based on four factors: structure, creativity, playhouse pitch and theme. Structure assesses the structural integrity of the playhouse. Creativity looks at the imagination of the team and how out-of-the-box they made their design. Each team was also assessed on the pitch they gave when presenting their playhouse to the judges. Theme determines whether the team successfully brought their given theme to life.
“Today each of you stretched beyond your normal comfort zones… the playhouses you put together were just amazing,” said Debra Harrison, president of John Deere Canada.
Playhouses with purpose
“The spirit of competition here brought out the best in everyone and ultimately, Habitat and the kids are the real winners today,” said Guy Payette, president of Innomar.
Traditionally, playhouses from our Playhouse Build Challenge end up in our ReStores where they’re resold to families within our community. For this build, all eight playhouses have already been sold.
Seven of the playhouses were bought by Innomar employees to bring home to their families.
Sold at $100 each, the revenue from the sale of these playhouses will go directly to Habitat HM’s build program. So while Habitat’s youngest homeowners are enjoying their new playhouses, we’ll be working diligently to expand affordable housing within our neighbourhood for Habitat’s slightly older homeowners.
The last playhouse purchased by Innomar, will be donated to Rock, an organization that provides child and youth mental health services and other programs. They’re dedicated to building strong (or Rock solid) people, families and communities. The Disney playhouse by John Deere will go in Rock’s community room for children within their organization to enjoy.
Additionally, the companies collectively donated $20,000 to Habitat HM as a part of this Playhouse Build. These donations will allow us to maximize our impact in building affordable housing locally, so more families can find their place to call home.
Bonding over the build
“I didn’t know anyone on our team until this morning,” said Jillian Lassaline, team captain for John Deere’s little gamer playhouse.
“The day was a lot of fun. Everyone on our team worked really well together, jumped in wherever they needed to be and helped other people out.”
Teams from both companies were arranged to have team members from different departments, or individuals who rarely work together. Across the board, teams agreed that the Playhouse Build strengthened their relationships with their co-workers.
“We don’t really work a lot together, so the collaboration that we saw today and how much we were able to accomplish in one day was fantastic,” said Andrea Baumgartner, team captain for Innomar’s under the sea playhouse.
Though the day went by quickly, said Lynne Hall, team captain of the Disney playhouse from Innomar, their team really pulled together to get everything finished.
“The entire day was really fun. It’s for a great cause and I’d love to do this again,” Hall added.
The Playhouse Build Challenge is only one of the wonderful team building events we offer at Habitat HM. When working together to build a home, you’re really building relationships with those working by your side. See for yourself how our team build experiences have the power to transform a team and turn the strangers you work with into close co-workers.
Two companies with one mission
“Thank you to John Deere, for being such a great competitor but also, more importantly, for being such a great neighbour. This is what community is all about,” said Payette.
Though Innomar operates in healthcare and John Deere works in machinery, the two companies clearly share the same mission: to better their community.
“Today was a great day. It was really nice to have the opportunity to see all of you participating and enjoying yourselves for a very great cause,” said Phil Tuning, president of John Deere Financial, Canada.
Innomar and John Deere’s participation in this event has not only raised thousands of dollars to support Habitat HM’s mission of constructing affordable housing, but it has also provided local children with a fun way to spend time outdoors.
“It’s important to remember what we are doing here. Yes, the Playhouse Builds are a great way to have fun with work colleagues, but your work throughout the day will make an impact on the 18 families who will call our Queensway build project home,” said John Gerrard, CEO of Habitat HM.
“Your teams today built eight spectacular children’s playhouses that will offer enjoyment and inspire imagination within the little minds that play in them for years to come.”
John Deere has been a dedicated supporter of Habitat HM for years. They’ve donated thousands of dollars and most invaluably, their time. Through their contribution of labour on our build projects and their participation in events such as the Playhouse Build, they’ve shown us that they truly walk the talk in creating change within our community.
More recently, in 2017, we had the pleasure of partnering with Innomar. Since then, they’ve unwaveringly displayed the value they place in our mission to expand affordable housing locally. They stepped up to sponsor a home on our Queensway build, have donated thousands of dollars to our organization in the past two years alone.
The support these two organizations have given our Habitat affiliate is invaluable. We truly cannot adequately express the impact their contributions have had on our ability to make leaps and bounds towards attaining our vision of a world where everyone has a place to call home.
Innomar specializes in patient care. Their name reflects the company’s roots in innovative market access solutions and reimbursement consulting. They work in an innovative way to improve product access and increase supply chain efficiency. Ultimately, the patient is kept at the heart of everything they do.
Learn more about Innomar here.
About John Deere
John Deere primarily manufactures agricultural, construction and forestry machinery. Innovation guides everything they do and they pride themselves on providing their customers with ground-breaking equipment. They’re highly dedicated to maintaining integrity, quality and commitment in all spheres of their work.
Learn more about John Deere here.
Click here to see which Habitat homes we’re currently building.
Habitat for Humanity Halton-Mississauga is a proud member of our national organization Habitat Canada and is one of 54 local Habitat affiliates across our country. Habitat for Humanity brings communities together to help families build strength, stability, and independence through affordable homeownership. We provide a solid foundation for better, healthier lives in Canada and around the world. You can find out more about Habitat Canada at habitat.ca.