SHENANDOAH JUNCTION — Let’s Play, a mobile recreation program conducted by the Jefferson County Parks and Recreation Commission, comes to youngsters unable to visit playgrounds.
The program operates a van loaded with a variety of items for people of all ages. The van travels to play and learn at the county’s nine public parks, explained Jennifer Myers, director of the county parks commission.
“This is a great way for children and families to get recreation outside,” she said.
The mobile recreation program kicked off in 2018 with a $15,000 grant from the Rotary Club of Charles Town. The program is also supported by a grant for $17,000 from the Herbert Henderson West Virginia Office of Minority Affairs, funding that allowed the commission to purchase solar panels to power equipment at any outside location.
The first grant allowed the parks commission to purchase supplies and get graphics for the van to make pop-up recreation events more visible to the community, Myers said.
Pop-up events for kids are not connected to any particular event like a parks festival or show. The supplies purchased include an inflatable nine-hole miniature golf set and a safe (harmless arrows) mobile archery set.
“We average between 10 to 15 participants for events,” Myers said.
Let’s Play is free to use, but participants have the option of paying a fee if they want to reserve the van for a family outing. Two parks commission staff members supervise the program, traveling with the van.
Physical distancing, face coverings and extensive cleaning of the equipment used are all part of the program as precautions during the pandemic.
Let’s Play isn’t limited to operating at county parks. Any local business can participate in the program, said Becki Zaglifa, the public relations manager for the parks commission.
“The only thing we ask of businesses is to provide a volunteer or two to engage with kids,” she said. “The idea behind that is to bridge kids to community leaders and create connections and relationships that wouldn’t otherwise happen. Of course, everything is limited to schedules and availability of our staff and calendar too.”
The mobile play program will continue into November, weather permitting, and then restart in the spring.
Jefferson County’s nine public parks are Sam Michaels Park, Leetown Park, James Hite Park, Bolivar Nature Park, Moulton Park, Mount Mission Park, South Jefferson Park, which are all developed, and Harvest Hills and Heather Marriott Park, that are not developed.
The schedule for the Let’s Play van can be found on the park system’s Facebook page or by calling 304-728-3207.