OPD Receives Playground Grant

The Oregon Park District was chosen by the Illinois Park and Recreation Association and GameTime to receive a playground grant of $48,000 and serve as a National Demonstration site during the IAPD/IPRA Soaring to New Heights Conference on January 20.

IPRA teamed up with GameTime to promote a statewide funding opportunity to promote healthy play and encourage best practice designs for active behavior. The grant was announced during a Professional Development event offered in October that Executive Director Erin Folk and her Recreation Staff attended.

"Having the opportunity to learn about best practice play research and available grant funding served as a launching pad for the District to begin to tackle our playground replacement needs. Fairgrounds Park is at the top of the list as the oldest playground owned by the District" said Folk.

The grant allows communities to put research into action and promote quality of life in our parks. The District was able to demonstrate the communities need for additional play projects through an essay submission and support received through studies conducted by the Ogle County Health Department and KSB Hospital. Both organizations found physical inactivity as a primary source of chronic disease for those who live in our area.
After attending the development session, researching the grant and incorporating the Oregon Park District playground replacement schedule, Folk began the submission process. 
"Evaluating our current park structure and community needs it became evident that we had an opportunity to create a one of kind play experience at Fairgrounds Park.” 
The District incorporated three key design strategies which resulted in Fairgrounds Park being awarded the grant and three National Demonstration Site designations. The sites will contribute data toward the publication of a White Paper to highlight best practices and outcomes achieved. The initial findings will be presented at the IAPD/IPRA Conference in 2018.
The National Demonstration Site program was conceived to recognize thoughtfully planned outdoor play environments that ensure that people of all ages and abilities can be physically and socially active through play and recreation. Communities that are recognized can create positive attention and attract partners and funding that support this social capital. Additionally, by collaborating with program partners, the successful process can be replicated for others to share.
"Over 53% of District residents reside within a mile of Fairgrounds Park and the park is easily accessible by bike or on foot. Creating a space to include play and fitness features allow families a place to participate in play and physical fitness, resulting in healthier families," said Folk.
The Oregon Park District will replace the existing play structure at Fairgrounds Park with an IONIX GT structure utilizing a similar foot print to the current playground. The IONIX structure is designed to be accessible and include the six key play elements: balancing, spinning, brachiating, sliding, climbing and swinging. Fairgrounds is designed in a way that allows those entering the park by car, bike or foot to access the playground immediately. 
A 3/4 mile trail loop is split into the north and south section, which both start and end at the playground. The loop will be used to incorporate outdoor fitness within three play pods along the north section of the Fairgrounds Park. Each of the pods will include play equipment for children and at least three pieces of fitness equipment for adults. The pathways and pockets will extend the play value and keep children moving as they move from one pocket to the next. 
Combining play structures and fitness equipment is a new concept and to date has been rarely implemented nationwide. "Combining fitness with play equipment along a paved trail will create an opportunity for adults and children to be active together and increase the chances for our community being more physically active and lead to reduced chronic diseases" said Folk. 
"We are excited to receive the grant and planning has already begun. The project will be completed by June 1, in time for families to enjoy it this summer" Folk added. "The goal is for patrons of all ages to increase the amount of daily physical activity they partake in. We also hope parents will utilize park amenities and teach their children about the importance of daily physical activity. Adult support is a key component in developing active youth."
With the new playground and fitness areas the Oregon Park District plans to launch a community initiative called Operation Move in mid-May to coincide with Fairgrounds Park opening. Watch for more details!

For more information about the Oregon Park District or any of our parks visit www.oregonpark.org or call (815) 732-3101.

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