Playgrounds at four Columbus parks are set to receive major upgrades this spring. That’s good news, of course, for children who want to run, jump and swing on equipment that is new to them.
But more importantly, the project known as “Race to Play” is a good investment for the city’s residents on multiple levels.
More than $500,000 in improvements to the playgrounds at the Mead Village, Pence Street, Morningside and Ninth Street parks will help provide safe places for children to play. As any parent can attest, having places for children to play, have fun and be safe are extremely important. Having such a place in your own neighborhood helps improve one’s quality of life.
Another goal of the project is to increase pedestrian and bicycle traffic at the parks. Using the parks to encourage healthy lifestyles is important. A 2012 study conducted by Columbus Regional Hospital revealed that 63 percent of Bartholomew County residents are either overweight or obese. County residents fare slightly better than state and national rates, but not much.
Sedentary lifestyles are harming children just as they do adults. As a result, some are suffering from diabetes and heart disease, said Beth Morris, director of community health partnerships for Columbus Regional Health.
The playgrounds address another important issue with designs that are meant to accommodate people of all physical abilities. Nearly 17 percent of the county’s residents have disabilities, according to the Indiana Governor’s Council for People with Disabilities.
Columbus and Bartholomew County have been working to make sure all city and county buildings meet the standards of the Americans with Disabilities Act. Having playgrounds accessible to all people strengthens the community’s commitment to being inclusive.
This investment in the neighborhood parks and playgrounds, particularly benefiting the children, is not accomplished without a serious, collaborative effort by multiple parties. Foundations representing the city, businesses and individuals have stepped forward to assist with donations.
Columbus has a history of collaboration when it comes to big projects. This is another shining example of many people banding together to enhance the lives of its residents, and especially its children.
When the ribbons are cut to the new playgrounds May 8, the community will have much to be proud of — especially if the improvements lead to healthier and happy children.
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