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Kid-friendly changes come to GB
new re Community Hnderson 2
Children enjoy the new My BackYard Playground equipment at the grand opening, which was held in December 2015. - photo by RUSSELL EDEM Great Bend Tribune


Diann Henderson, Executive Director Great Bend Recreation Commission

What city do you live in?
I grew up in Great Bend and reside here.

Family Members
I am married to Ken Henderson, Head Athletic Trainer at Barton Community College.  We have two children, John and Kelli and daughter-In-law Nicci.

I enjoy a good movie, cooking, gardening, working in my yard, going on walks, enjoy taking nature photos and sunsets.

What drew you to this work.
In college, I had interest in education, business and computer technology. This job allowed me to expand those interest.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?
It is the people. The ability to see the personal benefits derived as individuals participate in our recreational programs, enjoying our parks, biking, playing a sport or just a big smile on a child’s face as he slides down the roller slide at My BackYard Playground.

How has it changed since you first began?
The values of public park and recreation services have not changed much over the years. The public views their local park and recreation services as a vital part of their neighborhoods and their community. The newest trend in providing the services focus on conservation, health and wellness and social equity. Today’s public is older, better educated, ethnically diverse and very technology savvy. This has changed on how we currently deliver our services, and has altered how we communicate with the public, which was unimaginable 25 years ago.

Great Bend and Barton County saw many new improvements in 2015, but one improvement is very popular with the children in the community.
This is improvement is the My BackYard Playground which is located at the Great Bend Activity Center.
It took a group effort to make it a reality.
“This playground illustrates how four partners: the City of Great Bend, USD 428, the McKinna Ann Hope Foundation and the Recreation Commission came together with a common goal in mind. To create a new playground in Great Bend for individuals of all abilities to play,” Director of the Great Bend Recreation Commission Diann Henderson said. “Thus, the My BackYard playground being the most modern inclusive playground in central Kansas.”
Many people of the community came out to the grand opening of the playground to share in the excitement of a new place where families can get together and enjoy a day outside.

It features a walking path that is 1/8 of a mile long and will provide a place for adults to exercise while their children play. The entire playground is visible from the walking trail, allowing parents to watch their children as they exercise. The walking trail also promotes a way for children to exercise with their parents.
Other features include: plenty of shade and benches, development of a sensory garden that encourages natural learning and relaxation; a memorial walkway that separates the 2-5 year old play area and the 5-12 year old play area; play components such as rock climbers, roller slide, spinners, a Cozy Dome, Smart Play Motion, Swoosh Slide, Net Plex, Flex Climber, Sky Port Climber, Omni Spinner, Bobbly Riders, Wee Saw and Topsy Spinner.
The Smart Play Motion playground piece for 2-5 years olds provides 16 interactive developmentally appropriate skills which includes a tunnel, moveable puzzle pieces, wiggle ladder, sand play station with sifters and seats, leaf trail, race car hot wheel track that winds through the playground piece that allows children to send balls or their toy cars down the track, sensory panels, bell ringing, steering wheel, alphabet panel and steppers.

All-inclusive resort
This truly inclusive playground balances physical accessibility, age and developmental appropriateness, and sensory-stimulating play for children of all abilities. My BackYard features such playground equipment as the Omni Spinner, Roller Slide and Wee Saw. The Omni Spinner is and updated version of the old fashion merry-go-round, the Wee Saw is a new take on the traditional seesaws, which are wheelchair accessible and developed for children with developmental delays to play in the same setting as other children.
The Net Plex provides a futuristic climbing experience created from interconnected cables, net tunnels and climbing discs. The playground will include such features as rock climbers, gyro twisters and a variety of spinners.
The ZipKrooz is the latest in a zip line that brings this fast growing recreation sport to a playground in an exciting and safe way. This playground feature includes three total zip lines including a ZipKrooz Assisted seat.