CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Charleston Town Center Mall and Charleston Area Medical Center take playtime very seriously.
That is why the two have teamed up to build the first permanent, free play area at the downtown mall.
CAMC and Town Center executives hope to open the play area, dubbed "Play Patch," on Dec. 17.
The approximately 1,100-square-foot play area will be on the first level next to the Jos. A. Bank store on the Court Street side of the mall.
The fruit-and-vegetable-themed play area is an attempt by CAMC and the mall to encourage children to eat healthy foods and exercise.
"We're focusing on trying to teach kids to stay active and look for healthy foods," mall general manager Thomas Bird said. "We think this will be a great thing for parents to bring their kids to."
CAMC executives helped design the space, which will feature soft play equipment in the shapes of fruits and vegetables.
Soft, padded flooring will be placed over the tile to keep youngsters from hurting themselves if they fall, Bird said.
The play area is designed with the 5-2-1-0 program in mind, said Jamie Jeffrey, medical director of children's medicine at CAMC's Women and Children's Hospital. Jeffrey is also the project director for Keys 4 HealthyKids.
The 5-2-1-0 program is a strategy to fight childhood obesity.
It encourages parents to give their children five or more servings of fruits and vegetables a day; to prevent their kids from spending more than two hours a day in front of a television or computer; and to keep them active for at least one hour a day, Jeffrey said.
The zero in the program signifies zero sugary drinks like sodas or sports drinks.