Having a goal of promoting healthy, physical activity among local families, the Newton Recreation Commission's Community Play Day will feature many events falling in line with that mission when the second iteration takes place April 27 at Athletic Park.
On top of those physically engaging activities — like a volleyball tournament, mile run, obstacle course at Fischer Field and more — the play day is expanding to truly embrace that idea of community this year, as other Newton staples like HopeFest and New Hope Shelter's Kickin' and Screamin' kickball tournament will be folded into the proceedings this time around. According to NRC program director Audrey Gann, that was the plan from the beginning.
"When we came up with the idea of Community Play Day, this was the goal — to get our community involved in one big event at the park, where it wasn't just the NRC providing activities and things to do, but it was a place where anybody from the community could come and find some resources like they will at HopeFest or get involved in doing a little bit of charity with the New Hope Shelter," Gann said.
For the Harvey County Resource Council, organizers of HopeFest, the decision to merge was an easy call to make. Normally at the end of July, council member (and director of the Harvey County Health Department) Lynette Redington noted that HopeFest has seen decreasing attendance in recent years.
Put to a vote of the council, it made sense for HopeFest to consolidate with the Community Play Day — both in terms of organization and marketing.
"We just thought with all the agencies, with all the time the agencies put in, that this might be a good use of our time. We figure with all the promotion that the rec commission is doing, we should build off that," Redington said. "We wanted to get the biggest bang for our buck. We know there's going to be a lot of people there at Community Play Day."
Those who attend this year's HopeFest will see much of what has been featured in year's past, with the resources of many local support agencies on display — from Peace Connections to Health Ministries Clinic to Trinity Heights Respite Care (and many more). While a scheduling conflict means the Newton Lions Club will not be offering free vision screenings this year, there will still be free blood pressure and dental screenings.
Also, the Kansas State Research and Extension Office of Harvey County will bring the Story Walk back to HopeFest — something that will fit right in at the Community Play Day.
"It's a story by yard signs where you can walk with your child — or yourself — and read, usually, an elementary/pre-school level story. It's an actual book, but they've made it in these yard signs," Redington said. "It gets you out to exercise and you learn a little literacy."
Every partner agency will have an activity at its booth, Redington noted, and she pointed out that it is good to know about the resources available — as you never know when you (or a friend) may have to turn to those services.
Like HopeFest, Gann said the goal of the Community Play Day is to engage attendees in hopes to sell them on the NRC's mission of promoting an active lifestyle.
"Our goal and our mission is to get families outside to enjoy a park and play together, be active together, not only with their own immediate family and maybe extended family, but friends that they have in the community and really just bring all of the Newton community together for a fun, family event," Gann said. "Sometimes it's hard for people to want to go out and do that when it's not necessarily presented in a fun way. Our goal is to get out and be active, but you're having fun so you're not really realizing you're being active."
Fun ways the NRC is looking to actively engage attendees at the play day include inflatable bounce houses, a new parent/child cornhole tournament and the Battle of the Schools 1-mile run (with the school featuring the most participants earning a traveling trophy).
Community Play Day events will be going on from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. April 27 at Athletic Park, while HopeFest will be held from 10 a.m. to noon and the kickball tournament will be going on from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. HopeFest will be free, while the kickball tournament and certain play day events will have certain registration fees. For more on the activities or to register, visit http://www.newtonrec.org or call 283-7330.