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Seidel: Parks are just one reason to be thankful

Published: Wednesday, Nov. 21, 2012 5:30 a.m. CDT

Thanksgiving gives us a chance to recognize our many blessings. And there’s no finer way to give thanks than with good food and even better company. All year, we strive for more. We seek a better job, a leaner body, a bigger house or a newer iPhone. But this holiday asks us to consider what we’re lucky to have right now.

I’m grateful for something often unnoticed – our breathtaking parks. From the grassy riverbanks at Island Park to the expansive prairie at Peck Farm Park, Geneva is blessed with natural beauty.

It’s hard to deny the soothing effects of nature on mind, body and soul. In fact, it’s proven. According to the National Recreation and Parks Association’s 2010 research report, prevalence of depression was 33 percent less in the residential areas with the most green space compared to neighborhoods with the least.

Green space also provides opportunities for outdoor, physical activity. According to a report that was published by the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, adults who had used parks in the past month were more than four times as likely to meet public health recommendations of engaging in physical activity.

These health benefits also have a fiscal value. Parks and Recreation Magazine finds that individuals who exercise moderately in parks experience $351 to $700 in health savings each year. Through the promotion of physical activity, parks are an integral tool in reducing the billions of dollars in direct and indirect costs of the obesity epidemic.

The environmental benefits of parks also save us some money. Green space improves air quality through air-pollution removal, carbon storage and removal, and temperature reduction. The NRPA estimates that the carbon dioxide storage of urban trees in the continental United States is worth approximately $16 billion. These same trees provide an annual benefit of about $5.6 billion by removing pollutants from the air.

But economic benefits fail to compare to the connections parks form within our neighborhoods. Consider how many young friendships begin on our playgrounds. Away from television screens and other distractions, neighbors flock to parks to enjoy moments spent not only with nature, but with each other.

Growing up in the Tri-Cities area has given me much to be grateful for. Simply living here has awarded me many opportunities – terrific school systems, kindhearted neighbors, charming local business, exceptionally diverse sports and recreation programs, encouraging parents, and an area with plenty of scenic spots to explore.  

Ultimately, I appreciate a community that cares. The success of the Geneva Park District is made possible with our community’s cooperation. With support from you, we are able to maintain and enhance our 48 parks and create hundreds of programs to enhance quality of life. The Geneva Park District is grateful for your support as we continue to provide the benefits of parks and recreation to our community. For information on the Geneva Park District, call 630-232-4542 or visit www.genevaparks.org. To follow our latest happenings, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/genevaparkdistrict.

• Natalie Seidel is marketing coordinator for the Geneva Park District and can be reached at 630-232-4542. Email her at editorial@kcchronicle.com.

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