2020 Spring Block Champion

Meet Our Spring 2020 Block Champion - Amanda Schwichtenberg, Program Manager for the West Allis-West Milwaukee Recreation and Community Services Department  

Imagination Playground is proud to introduce you to our Spring 2020 Block Champion, Amanda Schwichtenberg, Program Manager for the West Allis-West Milwaukee Recreation and Community Services Department.  We congratulate Amanda for her efforts with the Operation Recreation vehicle to help children and their adults to stay physically active through play. Often serving areas in the community with high rates of poverty, Amanda inspires positive relationship building and engagement through her enthusiasm and willingness to play alongside the participants. She takes use of the Imagination Playground Blue Blocks to new levels, inviting children to open up and get creative.  

Here’s more about Amanda and the West Allis-West Milwaukee Recreation and Community Services Department:

Tell us a little bit about your organization, and your role in your organization

The West Allis-West Milwaukee Recreation and Community Services Department operates under the jurisdiction of the West Allis-West Milwaukee School District.  We serve the city of West Allis (population approx. 60,000) and the Village of West Milwaukee (population approx. 7,000).  We are located within the center of Milwaukee County and are an urban community located right outside of Milwaukee, WI.  Our mission is to provide recreation experiences and learning opportunities that serve our community.  With an administrative team of 12 professionals, we take pride in “Bringing Family and Community Together through Recreation since 1934.” 

As a Program Manager for our department, I oversee the Youth and Adult Enrichment programs which include; (cooking, arts, personal development), Trips, Special Events like the Mother Daughter Tea, Halloween in the Park, and Mini Prom and the youth Dance program. 

How long have you had the Big Blue Blocks?

We have had the Big Blue Blocks for over 3 years and are looking to expand our inventory.

How did you hear about the Blocks?

As we have had them for years, we are not 100% sure where we first learned about them.  Our best guess is at a conference, advertisement mailed, heard through an affiliated association, etc.  We know we received information both via email and US mail and continue to do so.  We most recently visited the Big Blue Blocks Booth at the National Recreation and Park Association 2019 annual conference in Baltimore, Maryland.  It was great to connect with BBB staff. 

Tell us a little bit about how you use the Blocks in your programs to support your mission

One of our programs that utilizes the big Blue Blocks is called Operation Recreation, a mobile play unit that travels to a variety of events and parks throughout our community that aims to bring families together through recreation.  The big Blue Blocks are the most popular activity with Operation Recreation.  The blocks allow families the opportunity to play and creatively interact together in a non-structured and non intimidating setting.

What is your favorite thing about the big Blue Blocks?

The pieces that compose the big Blue Blocks kit allows the children creative freedom.  We have had children create bridges, towers and even a functional windmill using the pieces provided.  Each event we attend, the blocks are used in a new way and I am amazed by the children’s creativity. They provide an opportunity for children to use their individual creativity and imagination.

What is the biggest challenge with the Big Blue Blocks?

There are not that many challenges but if we had to name some, keeping them clean and finding the time to effectively and efficiently clean them would be one and getting them all back into the wheeled bins after taking them all out.  That requires some engineering 🙂

What would you tell someone that was considering buying the Blocks?

One of the best investments you will make.  The Blocks are durable and provide countless hours of free play, imaginative play, and can be used for many different age groups.  Their soft texture and composition make them safe for all ages and their large size and vibrant color easily attract attention and draw people to them.  They also require little to no directions so any staff member can incorporate and implement them into their programming. 

Is there anything else you want to share about yourself or the Blocks?

The best part about the Blue Blocks is that they are so inclusive.  Everyone is encouraged to play no matter their age or abilities.  It’s amazing to see at each event we attend, how the children are accepting of one another and work together to create their next Imagination Playground.  The Blue Blocks are a diverse experience that has no boundaries.  They are a huge draw in our community because they are so inclusive.  

Words of Wisdom

“The best part about the Blue Blocks is that they are so inclusive. Everyone is encouraged to play no matter their age or abilities.”