Imaginations running wild

Imagination Playground™ donations bring creative play to kids across New Mexico.

Castles, moats, barbells and time machines! The possibilities for creating unique play structures are almost limitless with an Imagination Playground in a Cart™. And having opportunities for such boundless, imaginative play is vital for the health and wellness of young minds and bodies.

“Play is an important part of childhood,” said Dr. Eugene Sun, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico (BCBSNM) vice president and chief medical officer. “Active play on a daily basis helps children develop physically, mentally and emotionally.”

To help increase access to play for kids throughout New Mexico, BCBSNM donated five Imagination Playgrounds to organizations across the state in 2017.

With a collection of oversized blue foam parts, Imagination Playgrounds allow children to build and rebuild objects using their imaginations. The equipment encourages physical activity while also inspiring creativity, teamwork and just plain fun.

“Kids love imaginary play,” said Rita Condon, manager of the New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) Obesity, Nutrition and Physical Activity Program. “It takes them away from screen time, such as watching TV or playing with video games.”

Condon spoke at the Imagination Playground unveiling to Healthy Kids Socorro County, which is part of the NMDOH program, Healthy Kids Healthy Communities. The program supports the prevention of childhood obesity by fostering increased opportunities for physical activity and healthy eating.

Our children absolutely need that time for creative, unstructured play.

Other groups receiving Imagination Playgrounds in 2017 included:

  • Bernalillo Academy, a sub-acute residential treatment facility in Albuquerque for children with autism, developmental and intellectual disabilities, neurodevelopmental disabilities and other emotional and behavioral disorders
  • Boys & Girls Club of Gallup, which offers after-school and summer programs for children in McKinley County
  • Embudo Valley Library and Community Center, which provides an after-school program and early literacy and reading programs for children in Rio Arriba County and nearby areas
  • Youth Development, Inc. (YDI), a community and family-based organization; with an accepting environment, diverse services and proven results, YDI prides itself on partnering with New Mexican families to help solve life’s problems

Dr. Diego Gallegos, president and CEO of YDI, noted that the Imagination Playground will help children at YDI develop their creativity, intelligence and social skills. “For us, it’s a great tool for our teachers to use with the kids,” he said.

“Our children absolutely need that time for creative, unstructured play,” said Melinda Heller-Nellos, executive director at Bernalillo Academy.

BCBSNM worked with KaBOOM!, the national nonprofit dedicated to giving all kids the childhood they deserve through play, to select organizations to receive the playground equipment. With these donations, BCBSNM supports efforts to make sure all kids get the balanced and active play they need to thrive.

 

For more information about Imagination Playgrounds, visit KaBOOM!