MANY of those who turned out for the official dedications of four refurbished Columbus playgrounds last week were drawn by the presence of several national celebrities — individuals like hometown hero and NASCAR driver Tony Stewart, HGTV personality Carter Oosterhouse and his actress wife Amy Smart, and Subway spokesman Jared Fogle.
A number that is far more important to this community would be the tens of thousands of children who will now and in the years to come be able to access activity areas that will not only bring joy into their lives but help them develop healthy habits.
The aforementioned celebrities deserve a good deal of the credit for the revitalization of these parks in the Mead Village, Morningside, Ninth Street and Pence Street neighborhoods.
Through their foundations they provided significant financial, resource and material support for a local program called Race To Play. Their presence at the dedication also afforded the program and the community with a national exposure that can only be described as immeasurable.
All that said, it is important to also note that Race To Play is in actuality a community effort that was realized through significant local contributions and a collaborative effort that involved scores of individuals and organizations.
That’s illustrated in part by the long list of sponsors of Race To Play that appeared in a story about the event
It’s also illustrated by the leadership of city officials, particularly those in the Parks and Recreation Department, in bringing all this together.
The obvious connotation for the playgrounds is the recreational opportunities they present to the children who will be using them in the years to come. An added and even more important element that was stressed during the dedication ceremonies last week would be the role these facilities can play in encouraging healthy lifestyles.
The bottom line on the improvements to these four playgrounds came to more than $500,000.
The overall payoff in the enjoyment these parks will provide and the potential for a healthier community they pose is priceless.