Located in Redmond, WA, Overlake Christian Church’s mission is to “Love God. Love People. Serve the World.” Most recently, that mission was brought to life in a new indoor play area, which is free and open to the public. Called KidTown Park, the church play area has already inspired visits from new community members and return visits for playdates.
“We constantly try to be relevant to our community,” says Lead Children’s Pastor Phil Chenery. “We ask, ‘What do you need us to be’ rather than just, ‘Come to us.’ We want to know what services would be helpful to our community.”
Chenery says that the idea of an indoor playground came up several years ago when Lead Pastor Mike Howerton moved from California to Washington. He wanted to build a playground where kids could romp year-round. After a fundraising campaign three years ago, the play area dream has finally become a reality.
“We know that families with young children are often stuck at home with nothing to do when the weather is bad,” says Chenery. “The closest indoor play area is in another town in a shopping center where the traffic is bad and the parking structure is challenging, too. Ours is easy to get to and it’s free. It’s truly a service to our community.”
The church play area, which was designed, manufactured and installed by PLAYTIME, LLC, includes a park theme. It’s located in an area of Overlake Christian Church known as “KidTown” and everyone agreed that adding a park-themed playground to the “town” made a lot of sense.
Chenery says that working with PLAYTIME was not only easy but fun, and the final product has met all their expectations.
“We wanted something on par with the quality that you see in an airport or shopping center. We wanted a company that knew what they were doing and we wanted a playground that was both beautiful and practical,” he says.
The playground features a giant tree as a centerpiece, a canoe, log slices and several wall-mounted interactive play elements, including a PXLPLAY digital panel, which is an LED lighting system that responds to human touch by changing color, brightness and patterns. The panel engages children with light games that develop logic and memory skills.
“The kids love that panel! They are all over it,” says Chenery.
In addition to KidTown Park, the church’s community outreach efforts also include free services to help the homeless, teen moms, low-income families, as well as people affected by addictions and relationship turmoil.
As for the playground, Chenery says it is achieving all of the church’s goals only weeks after opening.
“The reaction has been super positive. I’ve already seen people coming back multiple times and they are inviting friends,” says Chenery. “Obviously we’d love for them to connect to our ministries, but they won’t get a hard sell from us. Our primary goal is to provide a space where they can enjoy time with their children and friends.”