Greeley parents band together in playgroup that teaches preschool-aged kids and helps parents make friends | MyWindsorNow.com

Greeley parents band together in playgroup that teaches preschool-aged kids and helps parents make friends

Kelly Ragan
kragan@greeleytribune.com

The curly blond ponytail of 2-year-old Eden Page bobbed as she teetered through rows of green beans at Miller Farms. Then she hesitated before the soil-covered plants. She watched as her mom dropped some of the beans in a plastic bag. She plucked a bean from the vine and inspected its long, slim, green pod. Then she raised the bean to her mouth and bit into the crisp pod.

Once she realized they were the same beans she ate at home, Eden pulled off as many beans that would fit into her tiny hands. While munching, Eden helped her mom, Kim, fill up a bag.

Kim brought Eden out to Miller Farms with Imagination Station, a nonprofit playgroup for parents and kids 0-5 years old. The group helps kids and parents alike make friends and experience new things.

"Eden's an only child," Kim said. "The group's helped her make friends and it's helped us explore Greeley."

This year marks the group's 10th anniversary in Greeley.

Moms and kids meet every Monday during the school year. The group alternates between gym play dates and field trips. They try to keep their adventures local by going to Fritzler's Corn Maze, the police station, fire station, Miller Farms and more.

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Larissa Marulli, vice president, had her son when she was 23. She first found out about the group from one of the moms at a library story time.

"I was lonely," Marulli said. "All my friends were still in school and didn't have kids yet."

As a stay-at-home mom, it was hard to get out and make friends. It wasn't like school or work where she had the chance to meet new people everyday. The isolation was hard — often her only conversations with adults happened when her husband came home from work. Marulli still needed friends who understood her after she had her son.

When she came to her first Imagination Station event, she was nervous. She didn't know if it would be cliquey or if other moms would judge her for being a younger mother. She was happy to find everyone welcomed her.

"Once you get there, you learn you're all doing the same thing," Marulli said.

The group gave Marulli a way to meet adults and develop meaningful friendships while teaching her son about the community. So, when Imagination Station needed volunteers to keep it running, she decided to help.

Leisel Bode of Greeley homeschools her kids, so the group gives all of them an opportunity to get out and do things they wouldn't normally do, Bode said.

"It's a positive way for my kids to see doctors, firemen and policemen doing what they do and learning why they do it," Bode said. "It's an opportunity to learn about something beyond your backyard."

Mary Davis moved to Greeley from South Dakota about a year ago. She likes that the group sticks to local activities and that she's able to support local agriculture, like Miller Farms. Beyond business, Davis likes how the group helped her settle into Greeley when she moved.

"It helped me get to know people and the area a lot faster," Davis said. She's made friends with other moms and hangs out with them outside of the weekly Monday get-togethers.

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To see what Imagination Staiton has scheduled, go to its Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/GreeleyImaginationStation/ or its website at http://greeleyimaginationstation.org/.