Play is important for kids in all communities, which is why the Coalition’s work to promote grants from the Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program (WWRP) is so important.
These grants help empower communities across the state to meet their needs.
In Chehalis, a recent WWRP grant will help fund the renovation of the Chehalis pool, the only public outdoor pool in a 25 mile radius, serving thousands of kids each summer. The community is also waiting to hear about a Land and Water Conservation Fund grant. For more than 50 years, kids have learned to swim in this fun and safe environment.
Every child deserves a playground, but for some communities, providing access is not as simple as putting up a swing set. Evergreen Rotary Park Playground in Bremerton is on track to be the first accessible playground for children of all abilities in Kitsap County.
“[This playground] is the difference between not having anything and having something,” said April Mills, president of Bremerton Beyond Accessible Play.
April’s son Teddy was born with spina bifida. Teddy and the other children in their community group with this condition require play equipment that is wheelchair accessible. Community members said the WWRP grant they received cut their timeline for this project in half. The City of Bremerton plans to have this project completed by next year.
“There’s nothing for these kids unless there’s this,” April said.
Getting kids outside for play time reduces risk for childhood obesity and diabetes, helps kids develop strong immune systems, promotes imagination, and has been proven to help them concentrate in the classroom.
Making friends on sports fields and playgrounds is a pivotal experience for kids everywhere. In Washington, our kids have access to more than 400 Washington Wildlife and Recreation Program-funded parks in addition to the hundreds of other parks established by cities and counties.
But some neighborhoods are still without adequate play space, and as the next grant application cycle approaches, work by Coalition members and supporters will be even more important.
This is all part of leaving Washington a better place for the next generation.
Photo courtesy of Bremerton Beyond Accessible Play.