Outdoor fun

These are some of the fun items that will be included in the free PlayPack that will be distributed to kids by the Olean YMCA and Project Play of WNY at venues throughout Cattaraugus and Allegany counties.

OLEAN — Outdoor fun for many kids includes drawing on sidewalks with chalk, jump-roping, throwing a frisbee or rubber ball or seeing how many bubbles can be blown through a plastic wand.

A free PlayPack containing many of these items will be distributed by the YMCA of the Twin Tiers beginning today from 11 a.m. to noon at Boardman Park in Olean. The play packs also will be distributed at a number of other venues in Cattaraugus and Allegany counties in the upcoming weeks.

Brent Raabe, director of association advancement for the YMCA of the Twin Tiers, said it has partnered with the Ralph Wilson Foundation and Project Play of WNY to distribute 1,200 free PlayPacks at 25 sites throughout the two counties. He said the Y’s goal is to encourage families to spend time together while promoting a healthy and active lifestyle.

The play packs include a rubber playground ball, tennis ball, jump rope, frisbee, sidewalk chalk, bubbles and state of play activity card deck.

“We understand the difficulties of our families getting somewhere so we are definitely committed to going to (the sites) in Allegany and Cattaraugus counties,” Raabe said.

He noted the focus of the Ralph Wilson Foundation is youth, sports and recreation in partnership with the communities.

“So the PlayPacks pretty much fall into all” of these categories, Raabe continued. “And it’s a way to give back and keep kids healthy and engaged.”

Zack Ewings, sports and rentals coordinator for the YMCA of the Twin Tiers, also commented on the organization’s current community outreach program.

“This global pandemic has been extremely difficult for everyone, especially kids who have been stuck inside,” Ewings said. “As the closures and cancelations continue we are thrilled about the opportunity to travel around Cattaraugus and Allegany counties to distribute the free play bags. “This program provides an opportunity for the Y to give back while ensuring kids have the tools they need to keep their minds and bodies active for the remainder of the summer.”

Barb Sweitzer, CEO of the YMCA of the Twin Tiers, said the “Y aligns with the work of Project Play WNY in encouraging youth to be active in fun and innovative ways to improve sport skills and lifetime love of physical activity.

“ We are excited to spread the joy of play throughout the two counties through a PlayPack of fun,” Sweitzer said. “It’s so simple, but can’t come at a more critical time for our kids. While so many of their summer activities have been cancelled, in this small way, we bring that activity back into their life.”

Raabe said the Y staff and others will be at each of the locations to distribute the play packs and provide a quick tutorial showing families how they can use their equipment in different ways. Social distancing and masks will be required of all attendees to ensure a safe environment.

Raabe said the Y staff will regularly send out new ideas and activities for the play pack equipment on their Facebook page or by email. The following is a list of distribution sites for the play packs.

Cattaraugus County sites:

• Today, 2:30-4:30 p.m. — Olean Boardman Park

• Friday, 2:30-4:30 p.m. — Olean King Street Park

• Friday, 11-1 p.m. — Olean YMCA

• Monday, 11-1 p.m. — Portville Central School

• Monday, 2:30-4:30 p.m. — Ellicottville Village Park

• Tuesday, 11-1 p.m. — Salamanca City Central School

• Wednesday, 3-4 p.m. — Farmersville Community Church

• Aug. 6, 9-10 a.m. — Hinsdale Central School

• Aug. 6, 2-4 p.m. — Randolph Central School

• Aug. 7, 11-1 p.m. — Allegany-Limestone Central School District

• Aug. 12, 10- noon — East Otto Town Hall

• Aug. 13, 2-4 p.m. — Cattaraugus Fire Co.

• Aug. 14. 11-1 p.m. — Seneca Allegany Community Center

Allegany County sites:

• Monday, 11-1 p.m.- Greg Norton Memorial Park, Almond

• Tuesday, 11- Noon- Allentown Fire Hall

• Wednesday, 10-11 a.m. — Wellsville Island Park

• Aug. 5, 11-1 p.m. — Whitesville Library

• Aug. 7, 11-Noon — Wellsville YMCA

• Aug. 7, 11-1 p.m. — Bolivar-Richburg School

• Aug. 10, 11-12:30 p.m. — Scio Central School

• Aug. 10, 11-1 p.m. — Belfast Library

• Aug. 11, 3-5 p.m. — Richburg Elementary School

• Aug. 13, 11-12:30 p.m. — Genesee Valley

• Aug. 14, 11-Noon — Angelica

• TBD — Houghton

(Contact reporter Kate Day Sager at kates_th@yahoo.com. Follow her on Twitter, @OTHKate)