Great memories are made on the playground during recess: games like hopscotch and foursquare encourage social as well as physical growth. Helping schools, parks, and other community groups foster that growth is Fit & Fun Playscapes, a Nelsonville, Putnam County-based retailer that furnishes stencils, paint, and indoor and outdoor mats for fun playground activities. Stewarded by its president Pamela Gunther and marketing director Angela Speziale, Fit & Fun Playscapes has seen an ever-growing national presence over the last eight years.
“We like to say we get kids moving, help them get physical, not digital,” says Speziale. The playmats and stenciled guides are colorful to help engage kids, and sneak in educational components as a bonus.
Pam Gunther with a daisy hopscotch painted at the Children’s Home of Poughkeepsie
The idea for Fit & Fun began when Gunther co-chaired a PTA project in 2007: Her son’s principal at Haldane Elementary School in Cold Spring, knowing Gunther’s background as an architect and real estate consultant, asked her for help renovating their playground. After Gunther’s PTA team spent days painting games freehand on the blacktop, she sought to create an easier way. Stencils were the answer: By 2011, Fit & Fun Playscapes was officially in business.
“We started with basics — hopscotch, four square, basketball games — and continuously added more over time, including yoga poses, fitness agility ladders, and activity circuits,” Gunther says. “We have about 80 stencil games at this time, 10 roll-out portable games, and 10 stick-down games for indoors.”
This stenciled map was an Eagle Scout project in Virginia.
There are three main game product lines: Reusable Stencils are painted on playground surfaces with matching Sherwin-Williams paint kits sold by Fit & Fun Playscapes; Roll-Out Games To-Go are for recess or classroom breaks; and Super Stickers are primarily used indoors to create a sensory-sensitive environment. When creating Fit & Fun products, Gunther and her team work with occupational therapists to learn which movements are most beneficial for children. It’s paid off, as Fit & Fun has been featured on NBC News.
As school systems impose increasingly strict academic requirements, the need for kids to take creative brain breaks is more important than ever. Fit & Fun Playscapes fills that void with fun solutions. “Recess isn’t just about play, and it’s not just a luxury, but a necessity,” says Gunther. “It’s the only time kids can really let their guard down and be themselves.”