Pop-up splash parks provide another way for kids to cool off

Unified Government officials are making a splash with an announcement today of 10 pop-up splash park kits available for organizations in Wyandotte County. They will provide a little relief from the extreme heat in store for the community in the next several days. From left, Emerick Cross, assistant county administrator; Commissioner Gayle Townsend; and Angel Obert, assistant director of parks and recreation. (Unified Government photo)

With an excessive heat warning in effect for the next six days, the Unified Government Parks Department has come up with another way for kids to cool off.

They are offering 10 kits for “pop-up splash parks.” The kits are being distributed to organizations in Wyandotte County that will then hold their own cooling events here with sprinklers, slip-and-slides, garden hoses, snacks and water for about 30 participants each.

The kits are valued at $275 each and are given free of charge to community organizations, said Ashley Hand, a Unified Government spokesman. It will be so hot this weekend that a few organizations were willing to jump on it right away, she added.

So far, about six of the kits have been claimed for different organizations, including churches, the Salvation Army, and Warriors 4 Wyandotte, she said.

They have received some other applications, and there are still a few kits remaining, she added. Hand said the UG was trying to make sure the location of the organizations’ events was not very close to the existing three permanent spray parks in Wyandotte County – Heathwood Spray Park, 10th and Parallel; Pierson Spray Park, 1800 S. 55th; and Eisenhower Spray Park, 2901 N. 72nd. They would like to have the kits distributed to a wide area.

The pop-up splash park kits will contain a slip-and-slide, two garden hoses, a sprinkler, a package of snacks and bottles of water. (Unified Government photo)

Organizations that receive pop-up splash park kits are being asked to allow as many as they possibly can to participate, and to hold more than one event if possible, she said. The splash park kits will be available for use by kids of all ages.

Those interested in applying for the pop-up splash park kits may fill out an application at https://forms.office.com/pages/responsepage.aspx?id=W0md541N1UepcYVUsgKC_9CGPdTF6UpHsNJeZfLP3elUMENPRVBTM1pWS01XTUFCRjJZWjhQUFQ1Ti4u.

“We know with the summer heat it is important for youth to stay cool while getting outside,” said assistant director of parks and recreation Angel Obert, in a news release. “We are excited to partner with our community to help reach more people in our neighborhoods.”

There has been community reaction this year to the closing of Parkwood Pool this summer, and the issue came up at a campaign forum earlier this week.

“While we all missed the use of Parkwood Pool this year,” said Commissioner Gayle E. Townsend in a news release, “the distribution of these cool off kits will give kids in our neighborhoods an opportunity for some welcome water fun relief. Thanks to all the sponsoring neighborhood groups, churches and other organizations for their participation as hosts of these events.”

The UG’s three existing permanent spray parks are operating every day. Hand said they are regularly cleaned and the water is treated. Staff has been vigilant in maintaining the spray parks, she said.

The spray parks, open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., are free. The spray parks are accessible and have zero-depth entry. The water is controlled by a sensor that turns on when a person steps into the area, then turns off when they leave. Those going to the spray park should wear swim suits.

With a lack of lifeguards, the Parkwood Pool will remain closed this summer, according to Hand. The UG Parks Department now plans to reopen the Parkwood Pool in the summer of 2022, she said.

As of April of this year, only one person applied to be a lifeguard, she said. They then extended the program and got seven applicants, which was promising, but not enough to physically staff the pool, she added.

Currently there is a lifeguard training program in place. Three of seven candidates have successfully passed a swim test and are eligible for a paid work-study program beginning this week to receive lifeguard certification.

“Congratulations to the seven young people who responded to our call for lifeguard applicants,” Commissioner Townsend said in a news release. “Each one of them showed great enthusiasm and heart during the swim test drills. We look forward to continuing to work with them to further develop their lifeguard skills in preparation for the next pool season.”

The UG is currently working with the Kansas City, Kansas, Public Schools, Turner Public Schools and the Kansas State School for the Blind, to discuss increasing access to indoor swimming facilities during the school year and offering swim lessons and lifeguard training to more students. Water safety is important to the UG, and learning to swim is also important, according to a spokesman.

The Parkwood Pool at 950 Quindaro will be drained for the remainder of the 2021 season, according to the UG. When it reopens next year, the Parks Department is hoping to contract with a third party to staff the Parkwood Pool, Hand said. The contractor will provide staffing as part of the contract.

“While we are truly disappointed we cannot offer this service this year due to COVID and labor shortages,” Obert said in the news release, “we are already working towards a fantastic 2022 season at the pool.”

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