Crack the Shutters and Open the Doors
Spring has sprung. It is time to get out of the house and let the children run free.
Writer / Alaina Sullivan
Photographer / Jessica Limeberry
Both parents and children are climbing the walls after the long and harsh winter Indiana has experienced. The urge to break free of the four walls and let the kids run wild while parents get a break is strong. Luckily, the Greenwood and Center Grove area offers a variety of options for parents looking for entertainment beyond the house or backyard with activities that are not just limited to sunny days.
Center Grove Trails
Getting outside in the fresh air is probably the first item on everyone’s to-do list after the arrival of warmer weather. Taking a walk or a nice bike ride with the family is a perfect healthy and free activity to do. Both Greenwood and Center Grove offer a variety of different parks, but the city is also full of trail systems perfect for those looking for a casual stroller to those die-hard runners.
Trails also offer a free and easy opportunity to get the kids out in an area that is safe for bicycles. The most well-known park is located in Greenwood off Smith Valley Road in Craig Park, but Center Grove Parks are planning renovations to offer additional trails for those who live west of State Road 135. According to CenterGroveTrails.org, discussions and plans have been ongoing regarding the addition of pedestrian bridges near Brentridge Estates and Stones Crossing Road. Hitting the road and getting a bit of fresh air is a good free way to spend an afternoon outdoors with the family.
Greenwood Splash Pad
Another free option for outdoor entertainment opened in 2013 with Greenwood’s first splash pad. The park was designed after other successful ones in Carmel and Westfield. The water park includes aboveground and inground features, including a Big Gust Water Tower, Water Bucket Brigade, Mini Water Dome, Water Frog and two misting posts, as well as a playground and walking trails.
Greenwood mother of two, Jennifer Church, appreciates the splash pad for its convenient location and clean atmosphere. The cost does not hurt either.
“What we liked [about the splash park] is that it’s free and clean,” said Church. “It is good for all ages with the splash area and playground.”
Church said her daughter enjoyed the state-of-the-art playground equipment and Water Frog. For younger children, the spurts of water that randomly shoot out of the ground provide endless entertainment and relief from the heat.
Mother of three, Jamie Quinlin, said her children enjoyed using the splash pad after its opening last August, though she recommends the park is not tailored toward children above middle school age. It is not that the park is inappropriate for older children, but they may not find the park features as exciting and entertaining as their younger siblings or friends.
“My kids had a lot of fun at the splash park,” said Quinlin. “It is definitely something fun and different to do on a hot day.”
Finding a park that is suitable for all ages is not always easy. Parents of toddlers and school-age children look for parks that offer equipment for children in both age groups, and not all parks have been renovated to offer playgrounds safe for children younger than age 5.
Independence Park is located close to Center Grove High School at 2100 South Morgantown Road, and it houses two different playground sets for children: one geared toward children younger than age 5 with play equipment at a lower height and rubber-padded surfaces and one geared toward children a little older and more adventurous.
According to the park’s Facebook site, Independence Park is Indiana’s first fully handicapped accessible park and playground and features accessible activities for children with cognitive disabilities. The entire park is surrounded by a walking path and includes a basketball court for children to play as well.
Wright’s Gymnastics & FUNdamentals
If they are climbing the walls, then let the kids jump the energy out with some time at Wright Gymnastics & FUNdamentals. Wright’s FUNdamentals is a gymnastics-based athletic facility for kids, offering spring floors, trampolines, bars, balance beam and ball pit.
Kids can take classes as well as play around during open-gym hours. The Center Grove location is at 1012 N. Bluff Road. Casey Wright, owner, says classes are offered during the mornings, afternoons, evenings and Saturdays.
Membership is not required, as the open-gym times or “FUNtimes” are open to the public in general. A cost is associated with using the gyms, with open-gym sessions being included as part of membership.
“We have open-gym times or ‘FUNtimes’ that are included with our program but also available for nonmembers,” said Wright.
Wright FUNdamentals also offers gymnastics, ballet, tumble, cheer and tumble classes and a Ninja Gym. The goal is to offer a fun curriculum and facility for medium- to high-energy children to focus their energy on learning new skills.
“Our motto and mission statement is teaching children to develop a love for fitness that lasts a lifetime. Ages 1 to 5 are critical learning years. We believe our programs instill a love for activity,” said Wright.
White River Library Branch
Located just north of Smith Valley Road off State Road 135, the White River Library Branch offers Center Grove families a host of opportunities from thousands of books to check out, to weekly and monthly programs for children of all ages.
The library is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Fridays, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, with limited hours on Sundays. For those looking for a rainy-day activity that is both free and engages children’s minds, the library holds summer reading programs for children of all ages and story times for younger children throughout the day.
The Johnson County Public Library’s calendar posts activities for individuals of all ages, from toddler to adult. All branches hold monthly matinee events, with family-friendly movies and refreshments. The cost? Completely free.
So get out of the house and let the children run free while you all get a breath of fresh air. Take advantage of the many low-cost or completely free opportunities out in the Greenwood and Center Grove community.
Alaina Sullivan is an attorney and freelance writer in Indiana. She focuses her legal work on providing free legal services to those who cannot afford an attorney and is passionate in writing about legal issues and news in the non-profit industry.