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Mobile Madison brings free, accessible activities to city neighborhoods

Mobile Madison brings free, accessible activities to city neighborhoods

From the School Spotlight: Adventures in learning, inside and outside the classroom series
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Heidi Wiley’s children were cooling off at the splash pad at Elver Park when they noticed all of the activity nearby and went to check it out.

Soon, Oliver Wiley, who will be in kindergarten, and Willow, 2, were building with the big foam blocks set out by the FIT2GO program.

“So I think we are stuck here now,” Heidi Wiley said.

Madison School & Community Recreation, Madison Parks and the Madison Reading Project are bringing free, accessible recreation to the city’s neighborhoods through the Mobile Madison program. The first event was Wednesday at Elver Park.

Art Cart, which is run through a partnership between MSCR and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, provided ArtKits so children can do art on their own. FIT2GO set up recreation activities, and the Madison Reading Project provided free books. Later on, the Madison Parks Division showed a free movie. The Madison School District’s Play and Learn program also participated by handing out free books.

Wiley said her husband was at home making dinner but thought maybe the family could come back for the movie. She also thought she might try to catch more times when the programs are collaborating and check out some new parks.

Another Mobile Madison collaboration will take place from 9 a.m. to noon Friday at Reindahl Splash Park, 1818 Portage Road, and will include the Art Cart, FIT2GO and the Madison Reading Project. ArtKits are being handed out because COVID-19 social distancing requirements prevent children from doing the art together at the park.

The collaboration was conceived a couple of years ago when MSCR staff was running programs at parks and saw other organizations offering their own activities.

“We would see all these mobile programs out and about,” said Marissa Berg, assistant recreation programmer. “It was kind of the lightbulb came on.”

In November 2019, MSCR started reaching out to other organizations about joining forces, Berg said.

The efforts resulted in seven different mobile programs coming together for three different events. But then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and wiped out the chances to get together. But as some opportunities have started coming back, efforts are being made to look again at collaboration.

Other entities MSCR is working with, but a collaboration hasn’t been possible due to COVID-19 restrictions, include the Dane County Library Service, Madison Public Library and the state Department of Natural Resources. Those organizations could offer a mobile library service, child-led activities and a trailer with fishing equipment.

Sisea Bolling came to Elver Park after hearing about the program. She said she likes her children to get exercise, and the family loves to read.

Her son, seventh-grader Jacob Bolling, said he was having fun building with the FIT2GO blocks, which made him think about abstract art.

Amal Aly came to the park with her 4-year-old daughter, Basra Mohmed, who had a soccer game that was canceled.

“We got here (where the programs were being held) and she got excited,” Aly said.

Eric Thomas had heard about the program and came to the park with his kindergartner son, Leon, and his 1-year-old daughter, Margot.

“I went to the Art Cart when I was a kid,” Thomas said.

Other dates when the the Madison Reading Project joins up with the Art Cart and FIT2GO include:

July 7

  • at Olbrich Park, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

July 16

  • at Vilas Park, from 9 a.m. to noon.

July 28

  • at Cypress Spray Park, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 11

  • at Garner Park, from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Aug. 13 at Elver Park, from 9 a.m. to noon.


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