The Great Bend Recreation is buying an Imagination Playground.
Director Diann Henderson got approval Monday from the GBRC Board to purchase more than 300 of the large blue building blocks and storage containers, at a cost of $19,219. By placing the order immediately, Henderson hopes Great Bend’s Imagination Playground can arrive in time for the June Jaunt and other community events. “We could set it up for people to enjoy,” she said.
Manufacturers of Imagination Playground blocks say their product combines “all of the benefits of block play on a larger-than-life-size scale that encourages kids to play together in groups and have more fun.” Playground blocks are made in the USA of lightweight dense foam that is waterproof and resistant to sun and heat. They can be used indoors or outdoors, and are intended for children 2 years of age and older.
Henderson said Great Bend will have the first Imagination Playground in central Kansas, if not the state. It will help fight childhood obesity and provide opportunities for unstructured “free play” that child development experts say is important for developing gross motor skills and social skills. They could be set up at the Great Bend Activity Center, and moved to special events in parks or other public areas. GBRC partner agencies such as the City of Great Bend, Unified School District 428 and the Barton County Health Department may be putting them to use.
After watching a video about the blocks, GBRC board members voted unanimously to buy two basic sets, each with 105 blocks in 16 different shapes, 92 other blocks in the curves and angles expansion sets. Board members Leonard Kaiser and Pollie Unruh both commented, at different times, “I think it’s a great idea,” and board president Dr. Marc Huslig said he wanted to play with the blocks, and that children will like them, too.
The purchase price comes in below the $21,000 currently in the GBRC budget for playground equipment, Henderson said. Blocks can be stored in plastic bags or a box with wheels; the board approved one box and one set of bags, noting each storage system will have its advantages in different uses.
In other business Monday, the board approved continued health insurance for employees through Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and accepted a one-year quote for workers’ compensation insurance through Cincinnati Insurance for $4,447. Henderson said there was one year left on a three-year quote for workers’ comp insurance, but the vender notified her it will no longer carry that type of insurance. Goss Insurance got two quotes. Midwest offered the insurance for $4,303 but did not meet GBRC’s specification of having an A+ Superior rating. The current vender’s quote was $4,607.