Playground Park on Fifth Street received new playground equipment last year and the improvements will continue, courtesy of a grant recently received by Quality Play for All.

Quality Play for All has received help from Live Well Geary County’s Pathways to a Healthy Kansas Resident/Community Well-Being grant to help with the installation of a basketball court at Playground Park. The Pathways program is provided courtesy of Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Kansas.

The implementation grant of $20,000 is expected to be supplemented by help from the City of Junction City and funds provided by private donors.

The project will encompass the installation of concrete, goals, benches, bleachers, and bike racks for the soon to be completed basketball court in the park.

Pathways to a Healthy Kansas is an expansive program by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Kansas. The program provides grants to communities such as Geary County.

This isn’t the first time the local community has received funding from this Blue Cross/Blue Shield of Kansas program.

Geary County is one of 16 Kansas communities taking part in the Pathways to a Healthy Kansas program. Live Well Geary County has received a $100,000 coordination grant; Geary County schools, worksites, restaurants, food retail outlets and other organizations have the opportunity to apply for non-competitive implementation and achievements grants amounting to $400,000 through July 2020. To date $220,589 in grant funds have been awarded with an additional $78,560 earmarked for future projects.

Quality Play for All is a local organization started in 2016 with the goal of updating playground equipment in Playground Park to comply with the American Disabilities Act. The equipment, which was put in place earlier this year, also incorporates something called the “seven elements of play.” These elements include sliding, spinning, balancing, climbing, swinging, brachiating (upper body movements), and overall sensory. The group hopes to improve the quality and safety of the playground parks in the Junction City community and at the same time strengthen quality of life for families all across the community. Through private and in-kind donations, the first phase of renovation in the park has been completed. The basketball court is part of the second phase of improvements, as is the addition of a covered pavilion. Quality Play for All President Joy Davis said the group was happy to have received help from the program.

“We appreciate the opportunity this grant has given us to complete the basketball court and seating for spectators,” she said. “The basketball court and bike trails also included in Phase 2 will create another area of play for youth of all ages and family activities.”

The Playground Park setting contains cohesive green space and has been surveyed to include further expansion with an additional shelter and even a performance pavilion in later phases, according to Quality Play for All.

In order to receive a Pathways grant, a project is expected to put a certain amount of focus on physical activity, by providing increased access to physical activity for all members of the community that receives the grant and improving existing facilities.

The Pathways program provides community coalitions, such as Live Well Geary County, with tools and resources to overcome barriers and engage the communities they serve to allow healthy eating and tobacco-free, active living to become options for people across communities. Communities that have received these funds work in a variety of sectors to build and sustain healthy environments for their residents, including community policy, resident/community well-being, food retail, health care providers, restaurants, schools and worksites.

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