PBS KIDS Backyard Opens

The first PBS KIDS Backyard has opened at St. Louis Mills in St. Louis, Missouri. The 3,000-square-foot playground is located in a PBS-branded shopping district in the mall, dubbed the PBS Kids Neighborhood. The Backyard and the Neighborhood is a partnership of PBS (Public Broadcasting System) and the Mills Corp. developers of the St. Louis Mills mall and other Mills retailtainment malls throughout the country.

The Backyard features full-sized play structures, including a rocket, car and tree house; computer stations where kids can play educational games from PBS Kids On-line and a small theatre for PBS character events, group readings and other performances. The Backyard is free and open to the public, and no products are sold in it.

Retailers in the PBS Neighborhood include The Children's Place Outlet, Sanrio (the makers of Hello Kitty), OshKosh B'Gosh Outlet and Laguanamagoo Toys.

Mills and PBS tout The Backyard as supporting PBS Kids' educational goals and objectives to develop the whole child - the cognitive, emotional, social and physical. More likely, it's a marketing strategy to increase PBS's viewership, and ultimately, viewer contributions. In addition, it may well be aimed at enhancing the image of St. Louis Mills in the eyes of parents. (There is a often a very fine line that separates not-for-profits like PBS and for-profits.)

PBS and The Mills Corp. plan to launch PBS Backyards in additional Mills malls.

We plan to visit St. Louis Mills and will be giving you a first-hand report in a future issue.