My friend Jud Morris thought I ought to have a look at Indoor Park at the Key Peninsula Civic Center a few days back.
I was only vaguely aware of this gold nugget for our kids. It’s under the umbrella of the Children’s Home Society, administered by Morris. The actual running of Indoor Park, the gathering of the toys geared specifically to wee ones, setting them up, watching and assisting the kids with their fun time, then repacking it all away at sessions’ ends, is in the hands of Tami Miller-Bigelow, who is a blur of caring, watchful action, constantly overseeing the kids reveling in Indoor Park activities.
“Indoor park has been happening since about 1995,” Miller-Bigelow explained. “I began bringing my then 3-year-old daughter Brittani here to play. There was only a small group of people attending.”
About 2007, she began running the program, which has grown tremendously over the years through word of mouth. Approximately three years ago, she also began announcing program dates in the local newspaper to invite parent-attended kids to enjoy the facility’s many fun, body-building items of play equipment.
Statistics for 2014 show that Indoor Park had 317 unduplicated people attend — 176 of whom were children.
To Morris, Indoor Park is a tremendous community resource.
“It’s a fun place for parents and children,” he said. “Many parents have shared with me how important Indoor Park has been for them and their children. Parents have told me they had an opportunity to play with their children in a safe and warm place, meet and talk with other parents, and learn some parenting tips. Their children have learned to play and share with other children.”
Indoor Park has been a program of Children’s Home Society/Key Peninsula Family Resource Center for 20 years, and every year it grows in popularity. Many moms and dads who came to Indoor Park now bring their grandchildren to the program, and many children who have grown up and are now parents bring their children to the program. Indoor Park has developed a great many CHSW/KPFRC supporters who live on the Key Peninsula. Many of the children who have attended Indoor Park now participate in many other CHSW/KPFRC programs.
“Currently,” said Miller-Bigelow, “we have a group of moms, dads, nannies, caregivers, grandparents and foster parents who stop in to play. My once 3 year old is now a 22-year-old mom to my 10-month-old granddaughter, Brooklyn. Brittani also attends the program with Brooklyn and assists in making good things happen here.”
Stella McGilvrey, 3, says her favorite thing about indoor park is “riding bicycles. I love it!” Her big sister, Reva McGilvrey, 5, said she goes to indoor park “to see kids to make friends with.” Their mom, Robyn, happily noted, “I live in Lake Minterwood and really enjoy not having to leave the peninsula to find a safe, clean venue/outlet for my children.”
Miller-Bigelow noted that some kids come to the KP Civic Center Tuesdays to attend the dance class in the Whitmore room and then pop over to Indoor Park to play sometimes.
Indoor Park’s current session’s last days are June 2 and 4. The program will resume operation in mid-September when school re-starts after summer break.
Indoor Park does not meet in July and August. Morris hopes interested parents will call them and they can give them Indoor Park details and when the program will begin in September.
For more information, call Morris or Miller-Bigelow at 253-884-5433.
Hugh McMillan is a longtime freelance writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.