It was a rainy Tuesday morning at Terrace View Park in Spokane Valley, but that didn’t stop kids from coming for fun activities.
“I’d be lying on the couch watching TV (if I weren’t here),” said Faith Simpson, 10.
Simpson and her friend, Abby Hegney, 9, were playing Connect Four with Jordan Minnihan, 14, underneath the picnic shelter to get out of the rain. They had all just finished eating breakfast provided by the East Valley School District.
It’s part of Spokane Valley’s Parks and Recreation Department’s free outdoor park program which has been offered at Terrace View, Greenacres and Valley Mission parks since June 16. It’s not a day care service, but it give kids something to do while they’re at the park.
“It’s kid focused,” said Jennifer Papich, recreation coordinator with Parks and Recreation in Spokane Valley. “It’s really what the kids are interested in.”
Those interests could be playing games or making crafts. On very hot days, Papich said the kids could be playing with water balloons.
“If we have a lot of people, we’ll play kickball,” Minnihan said.
Minnihan said if he wasn’t at the park, he would be at home sleeping. But he knew people who were taking swimming lessons, so while they were there, he was at the park having fun.
The programs are led by a staff member of the parks department. At Terrace View, that is Brendon Rannow, who leads the children in games, and crafts.
He said they’ve made animal masks with paper plates and showed off some pictures kids had made of hot air balloons using construction paper.
Staff members leading the activities are identified by their ID badges and T-shirts.
Along with the crafts and activities, at Terrace View and at Valley Mission parks, kids age 1 through 18 can come and get breakfast or lunch. The department has partnered with East Valley School District, which provides the meals as part of its summer meal program.
Simpson’s grandmother, Rosemary Long, said she has been bringing her granddaughter to the park all summer for the activities.
“I think it’s great,” Long said. “It gives them something constructive to do over the summer.”
Not only does it get the children outside, but they also get to have a lot of fun. Long said Simpson thinks the programs are just that.
“She wouldn’t come back if it wasn’t.”