On a recent summer morning at Coldwater Lake Family Park in Isabella County, five Central Michigan University students unloaded the maroon and gold
Play on the Way mobile recreation truck for a day of play. Out of the trailer tumbled an enormous colorful beach ball, a slip-and-slide, basketball hoop and more.
Manned by students from the
department of recreation, parks and leisure services administration, the truck and trailer takes planned programming and activities to underserved youth and families who may not have access to parks or formal recreation programs. One of the goals of Play on the Way is to help get kids outside and to be more active.
"We provide equipment, programs and activities to remote areas that don't necessarily have planned activities," said Kevin Troshak, mobile recreation coordinator and Howell senior. "It's a brand new program so we're excited to be getting out on the road this summer."
Play on the Way is the only service learning-based mobile recreation unit sponsored by a university in the United States. To date, it has served over 900 local youth and 2,400 youth across mid-Michigan.
Programming this summer served children at seven sites in mid-Michigan as well as other special events around the state, and activities ranged from organized sports to family games to environmental and outdoor education activities.
"Studies have shown if you are active for even 30 minutes a day you can improve your quality of life, and we are trying to make that accessible for more kids," Troshak said.
CMU students involved in Play on the Way also gained valuable experience as they trained for, planned and facilitated events. The opportunity to get out in the community with children of all ages is invaluable for students like Troshak, who is planning to pursue a career in community recreation.
"CMU's recreation program is known across the United States as one of the best, and Play on the Way really puts CMU in the spotlight as a leader in community recreation," he said.