INDIANAPOLIS, IN. — The Hoosier Health and Wellness Alliance (HHWA), in partnership with the Indiana Division of Natural Resources (IDNR), the Indiana Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity (DNPA), and the Indiana Parks and Recreation Association (IPRA) will provide training, and technical support to assist 8 counties across the state of Indiana in the establishment and development of county/city parks boards. The county/city park boards are critical to equipping communities to be eligible for funding and resources for park development. This will ultimately positively impact growth in the economic, social, and mental health wellbeing within communities as a result of increased parks and recreation accessibility.
This project has gained momentum quickly and led to the first of many capacity buildings victories in the Hoosier state, with the Vermillion County, IN. Parks Board being state recognized — something that has not occurred since 1969.
As the Vermillion County local paper writes: “There are eight parks that fall under the Vermillion County Park Board: Perrysville Park, Newport Park, Trailhead Park, Hillsdale Park, Dana Park, Ernie Pyle Rest Park, Miller Park, and Blanford Park…All of Vermillion County Parks have shelters that can be used by anyone. There is no reservation system or fee to use the shelters simply on a first come basis. All of the park shelters have a wheelchair-accessible table that was built as an Eagle Scout project by Westley Peebles and his crew. All of the county parks have an ADA swing (with the exception of Trailhead Park) and will soon have paved ADA parking.”
Increasing parks board capacity across Indiana, such as what was done in Vermillion County, specifically addresses a need to reduce the prevalence of obesity for Indiana residents. While the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that adults participate in at least 30 minutes of physical activity per day, a 2020 report shows approximately 35.3% of Indiana residents are reportedly obese, with 30.9% found to be physically inactive, putting Indiana among the top 10 states nationally for the highest rates of physical inactivity. In the establishment of parks and trails, communities can promote engagement in increased physical activity, directly prevent obesity for all weight levels, lower the risk of early death, heart disease, and diabetes; while also providing disease management, environmental, economic, and mental health benefits.
The HHWA is part of the Connections IN Health project, which is comprised of a team of experts focused on some of Indiana’s most chronic conditions, including obesity, asthma, cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes. Please reach out to Antonia Sawyer, Lead of the Hoosier Health and Wellness Alliance at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on the HHWA or to join the parks board development efforts.