Kids engage their imaginations at WonderSpace's imagination playground currently set up in Matter Park in Marion. Photo provided by Heidi Bell
Kids engage their imaginations at WonderSpace's imagination playground currently set up in Matter Park in Marion. Photo provided by Heidi Bell
A local organization is striving to provide local children with the opportunity to play and create using their imagination.

WonderSpace is a concept created with adventure and growth in mind. The original idea came from Stephanie Freemyer, who started the organization back in 2018.

This year, Week of Play, which is being held at Matter Park in Marion, has seen the multiple setups that WonderSpace has to offer, and has other additional events planned for this Saturday.

Through a partnership with NearSpace Launch, visitors who come at 10 a.m. Saturday will be able to send a message on a balloon launch. The balloon will make it out of earth’s atmosphere before returning back to earth. Those who sent a message will then be able to get their message at the next WonderSpace play date.

Also on Saturday, WonderSpace will be hosting a geocache event where children and their families will be able to explore Matter Park for a treasure box. Children will get to pick a new book from the box to keep.

Since Wednesday, WonderSpace has had four spaces set up at Matter Park: the imagination playground, cardboard city, snug play and high flyers. Each of these spaces offer different ways of play and engage a child’s imagination.

Freemyer said the idea for WonderSpace and Week of Play both came from the need to give children a place to play that emphasizes the importance of imagination.

The original design for WonderSpace was indoors, but due to COVID-19 these setups had to be further reimagined.

Parents are not the only ones who see the benefit of the type of imaginative play that WonderSpace offers, as aunts and uncles take their nieces and nephews out to play as well.

“It’s important for them to express themselves through play,” said Chris Bell, who brought his nephew, Donovan, to the event. “And to have a little exercise and activity in this difficult time, when some people are sheltering in place. It’s just good to get out about and be able to be a kid.”

COVID-19 has impacted the ability to set up dates for WonderSpace, especially during the winter and early spring for next year. WonderSpace currently has seven events scheduled during this time, and dates can be found at wonderspaceplay.com. These plans are subject to change as the pandemic develops, so Freemyer said the website is the best place to get updates.

As for plans for the future, Freemyer said the ultimate goal is to have an actual physical location where parents can take their child to play. Currently WonderSpace does not have a building to call home permanently and instead relies on scheduling events at local churches and other places to host events.

Though being in a central location is the goal, Freemyer said the ability to bring people together from all around the community and surrounding areas in Grant County is one of her favorite parts of being a part of WonderSpace.
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