The power of play

Summer is coming and when I was a kid that always meant lots of time playing outside.  I would spend time in the woods next to my house, play “kick the can” with our neighborhood kids, and ride bikes to Point Defiance. The last school bell of the year would ring, and we’d run out the classroom with newfound freedom!

But, thanks to COVID, our young people today have had closed playgrounds, empty swimming pools and socially distanced parks.

Kids need to play!

That’s why I’m excited our Parks department has partnered with Metro Parks, PenMet Parks, Lakewood Parks, Puyallup Parks and the Town of Steilacoom to offer deeply discounted and safe summer camps and programs for Pierce County youth.

Funded by American Rescue Plan Act federal funding, Kids Need to Play (KNP) offers 60 – 90% off the regular program fees for youth ages 3 – 18, making it more affordable for our youngest residents to enjoy some summer camp fun.

There’s a great variety of programs available in locations across the county.  The camp programs range from Lego brick building, to STEM learning, to soccer camps, to environmental camps and sports camps.

I hear from Roxanne Miles and her team that many of our Parks programs sold out within a day of the announcement of KNP.  They are now working to expand it for even more kids. Kudos to our Parks team for pulling this together so quickly!  And thanks to the Council for approving the funding quickly.

You can learn a bit more about this great partnership in this video:

And, I’ll share another example of partners coming together to help our youth.

Our high school students have lost so much over the last year. Music recitals, school plays, prom and in-person graduations have been casualties in the pandemic.  And, athletes have also had their seasons lost, shortened, or postponed.

Community leaders recently came together to help salvage some of the basketball season, and I couldn’t be prouder of what they’ve done for our kids. Watch this KING-5 story for the details.

As mentioned in the video, they expect more than 400 games to be played on this “court of dreams.” Bravo, Puyallup and thanks to Looker Asphalt, the Washington State Fair and everyone else that made it possible for our kids to reclaim a bit of what they’ve lost. It just goes to show what can happen when people come together to find a way to “yes.”  And of course, it was Puyallup’s own Chris Egan from KING-5 reporting!

Before I close, I want to remind you the annual employee engagement survey is now open. For the last year we’ve been six-feet apart from each other – both literally and metaphorically. More than ever, it’s important that County leaders hear and respond to what’s on your mind so please take a moment and offer your thoughts via the survey.

You can find the survey here.

Thanks for reading,