The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

September 21, 2013

Kidsgrove’s e-games a first in Valley

By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item

— SELINSGROVE — Known for its expansive wooden “castle,” Selinsgrove’s Kidsgrove Playground entered the digital age Saturday with the unveiling of an electronic playground gaming system, thanks to an Eagle Scout candidate.

A NEOS Wall from Playworld Systems is now part of the fun at Kidsgrove, which turned 16 last week. Eagle Scout candidate Gage Cooper, 15, of Selinsgrove, helped make it happen as the community project needed on his way to his badge.

Gage said he raised about $2,300 in about three months for the $30,000 NEOS system and its installation. Kidsgrove also won grants from Valley trusts and held several fund-raisers to purchase the NEOS Wall.

A NEOS Ring also was unveiled Saturday. This too is an interactive playset but designed with much younger children in mind.

Gage said he became interested in the project through Richard Norman, who helped found Kidsgrove in 1997 and who attends Gage’s church. Norman thought the modern, interactive equipment would be a great addition to the park.

“The games are fun and easy for kids to follow, as well as adults,” Gage said.

Flashing lights and electronic music also intrigues children and keeps them interested in the games.

Kidsgrove is the first Valley playground to have the NEOS electronic playground equipment, which combines the interaction of electronic games with aerobic exercise.

This not only gets children moving, but also gives them the interactive experience they’ve come to expect from playthings, said Ian Proud, Playworld’s research manager, who attended Saturday’s dedication.

NEOS “was born from the notion that kids expect to interact” with something, Proud said. “It’s a different kind of play than imagined at Kidsgrove.”

NEOS features traditional games such as “Duck Duck Goose,” as well as modern games called “Light Grabber,” where children respond to lights, and “Symphony,” which incorporates music into play.

About 30 people, including Norman, Proud, fellow members of Gage’s Boy Scout Troop 401 in Port Trevorton, Gage’s father Matt and Selinsgrove Mayor Sean Christine were on hand for the dedication.

NEOS “does everything,” Christine said. “It lights up and talks to you. It’s great to have people re-engage with each other using electronics while also getting back outdoors.”

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