The Healthy Community Corridor is a newly designated area in the eastern part of Wyandotte County that will receive a lot of focus during the next several years. Among other considerations, this is one of fifty projects nationally that were recognized as a HealthyCommunity50 project by the Aetna Foundation, the American Public Health Association and the National Association of Counties.
There are a lot of characteristics that make this corridor special – some that are good and some that are not so good. It's a geographic area that comprises less than one seventh of Wyandotte County, but holds more than half of the population. The population includes one of the features of Wyandotte County that I like the most – extraordinary diversity for this size of community. However, that population also includes a lot of low income families, a high percentage of whom have a variety of health problems. And a lot of the area has old crumbling infrastructure, including the trails within parks and sidewalks around them.
The area is blessed with a large number of outdoor spaces . . . parks and trails and other spaces . . . that are too often underused. Western and South Central Wyandotte County has the three largest destination parks – Pierson Park, Wyandotte County Lake Park, and Wyandotte County Park. However, this area in the eastern part of the county has 17 neighborhood parks in the central area of the corridor, plus an additional 16 parks on its outskirts.
I’ve been in a lot of those parks, but not all of them. Indeed, I got to thinking about this as one of our community mobilizers said something to me about how she needed to get around to more of the parks and become familiar with them. She’s right. Although these are all part of the same Department of Parks and Recreation, they are each very different. Some are small patches of ground that are not much more than a playground. Some are larger areas of green space and woods.
Of course, as concerns the 20|20|20 Movement, we are most interested in walking trails in the parks, and safe routes to parks via sidewalks and bikeways. These conditions also vary widely from one park to another. For example, some have excellent walking trails in them. Some have poorly laid out trails, trails in poor repair, or no walking trails at all. Almost none of them have amenities for cyclists.
I'm personally an avid walker and occasional cyclist. I've participated in all of the walking clubs for the WalkWyco initiative, and walk virtually every day. For October, I've decided on a special regimen. I’ve decided to walk in and around 31 different parks during the 31 days in October.
But this is more than an exercise in . . . well . . . exercise. This is an exploration – an opportunity to really look at the infrastructure in and around those parks – and an attempt to inform some of our infrastructure planning for the next several years by first hand observation.
My first park, yesterday on October 1, was Bethany Park at 11th and Central. As I experience each of these parks, you will see additional articles here on our website, plus photos and observations on our Facebook Page as well as on Twitter and Instagram. I encourage you to get out to our parks as well – to connect with others in your community as I did yesterday – and to exercise, to play, or even to just sit and reflect.