Get outside, pack a picnic, play on a playground, compete in a sport and enjoy the sunshine. The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is celebrating National Park and Recreation Month this July -- and they want all Americans to join in.
As part of that celebration, Greencastle Friends of the Park were at Robe-Ann Park passing out coupons for freezer pops last week.
"I can tell you we had many happy faces," said Friends of the Park board member Jan Firebuagh.
Spending the day at the park is not only great for your wallet; it's good for your health. Heading to a park and being active reduces stress, improves cardiovascular health, helps ward off obesity and decreases feelings of depression says NPRA.
"Active users of public parks have a lower body mass index
People who visit parks for longer periods of time (one hour or more) have significantly lower systolic blood pressures," says Barbara Tulipane, NRPA CEO.
Park users who are more physically active and who make frequent contact with friends during their leisure are less likely to report feeling depressed. Citizens who have better access to parks, visit parks more frequently, and engage in physically active park behaviors also make fewer visits to their doctor
Playing in parks also helps children build and maintain healthy bones, muscles and joints and improve self-esteem.
"Everyone can and should visit their nearest park this month," says Tulipane, "Spending the day at the park is a great way to bond with your family, connect with loved ones, and improve your mental and physical health."
Park and Recreation Month also recognize the vital contributions of employees and volunteers throughout the country that assist in creating and maintaining public parks and recreation facilities. These dedicated supporters ensure that public parks and recreation facilities are safe and accessible places for all citizens to enjoy.
"For the a community of 10,000 we have much to be grateful for in the area of Parks and Recreation and the people who volunteer and work for the city to see to a Park and Recreation system," said Firebaugh.
"I read the individuals that were responsible for Greencastle Aquatic Center built in 1992. It was inspiring to see that many of those individuals are still active in our city government. I have sat on the FOTP board since the skate park was built. Although it is necessary to have this board to stay as a nonprofit, I really enjoy being out with the citizens who use our park system. Securing parks and trails builds a strong community," added Firebaugh.
The Friends of the Park are offering half price memberships to interested citizens who have never been members. Membership forms can be collected at city hall.
For more information about National Parks Month visit their Web site at www.nrpa.org