Grantee Blog

Taking a Walk TO the Park

In August of 2016, RWJF’s Culture of Health Blog cited 6 reasons why parks matter for health according to key leaders.

  1. Parks Foster Mental, Physical and Spiritual Health
  2. Parks Encourage Physical Activity
  3. Parks Advance Health Equity
  4. Parks Help Kids Flourish
  5. Parks are a Powerful Prescription to Combat Chronic Disease
  6. We Need Parks to Survive

The role of parks and recreation on health and wellness cannot be understated.  However, to reap the benefits that local parks have to offer, it is essential that community members can easily locate and access the vital community resources with ease.

The Healthier Wayne collaborative is creating a guide to the parks system to help community members locate parks and get ideas on how they can use the parks for physical activity.  This month we have been visiting parks in Wayne to get a better sense of location and amenities, and to assess potential barriers to public access.  Working with interns from William Paterson University’s Department of Kinesiology, we have divided the Township into four quadrants and have been visiting parks that are clustered within those quadrants and making notes on our observations from the perspective of a potential user.

While we have not completed site visits to all 23 park sites, we have already noted some potential barriers to access.  For example, a number of parks are nestled in neighborhoods, and while that is generally a positive sign, some parks are so integrated in the neighborhood that they are hidden with no clear point of entry.  In addition, the roads leading to some of the parks lack sidewalks to safely navigate to the location.

Our early findings has led us to consider using resources from Safe Routes to Parks to perform a more extensive evaluation of park accessibility.  With the help of our WPU interns, we are also taking a closer look at the health statistics within the quadrants to see if there are “hot spots” where we might further focus our efforts to impact community health through healthy eating and physical activity.

About the Grantee

Metropolitan YMCA of the Oranges-Wayne

The Wayne YMCA is charitable nonprofit organization that serves as the center of community and culture in Wayne Township. We are a powerful association of men, women and children joined together by a shared commitment to nurturing the potential of kids, promoting healthy living and fostering a sense of social responsibility. At the Y, strengthening community FOR ALL is our cause.