Improvements to promote fitness in Youngstown park
Investment made in response to health survey
YOUNGSTOWN — In response to a five-year community health survey that showed nearly one-third of adults in Mahoning County are considered inactive and overweight or obese, improvements are coming to an east side park to promote physical activity.
Ground will be broken Thursday afternoon on the first phase of the Lincoln Knolls Community Park, which is on Maranatha Drive near the Campbell border. Residents from the Lincoln Knolls Community Watch have been working closely with the city of Youngstown, Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corporation (YNDC), and other community leaders to develop a plan and generate support to upgrade the amenities and condition of Lincoln Knolls Community Park.
Led by Marguerite Douglas, vice president of Lincoln Knolls Community Watch, steering committee member of the Healthy Community Partnership-Mahoning Valley and board member at YNDC, support and funding was secured in late 2018 through the HCP-MV from the Western Reserve Health Foundation and the Swanston Charitable Fund to transform the dream of a park into reality.
“Our vision for the playground is to have a recreational facility to promote physical activity,” Douglas said. “The youth in our neighborhood need a place to have fun, relaxation and healthy physical activity.”
According to the 2014-19 Mahoning County Community Health Improvement Plan, nearly one-third of adults living in Mahoning County were considered physically inactive (27.9 percent), and almost one-third of adults were considered overweight or obese (29.8 percent).
These numbers increase to 42 percent and 41 percent respectively in the city of Youngstown, according to data from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s City Health Dashboard. Increasing total minutes per day of physical activity for children and youth was identified as a priority to prevent / reduce obesity and other chronic health conditions based on data collected through the Community Health Needs Assessment. One recommended strategy to address these health concerns was the improvement or addition of park facilities to encourage more physical activity in neighborhoods.
Nestled between Danridge Burgundi Manor and Lincoln Square Apartments on Maranatha Drive, Lincoln Knolls Community Park will provide safe, outdoor recreational activities to dozens of Youngstown residents.
In an area of the city where residents face barriers to transportation as well as significant health concerns that could be improved with regular physical activity, the park will provide much needed access to youth and older adults for physical activity right next door.
The establishment and ongoing support of the park will be a partnership between Lincoln Knolls Community Watch, the Youngstown Department of Parks and Recreation and YNDC.
“Parks that are successful provide a wide array of benefits that help address health concerns that are related to the overall well-being of the individual or community,” said Dawn Turnage, director of parks and recreation for the city of Youngstown.
“The open space that will be created into a play space will add rejuvenation to the Lincoln Knolls area,” Turnage said.
The scope of the project will provide amenities for youth as well as adults such as the installation of playground equipment, exercise equipment, a walking trail and benches. Additional improvements at Lincoln Knolls Community Park are the construction of a retaining wall to mitigate flooding at the basketball courts as well as investments in signage, beautification and other environmental enhancements.
“This is a community led project which has been in the making for years. We need(ed) a playground in our own neighborhood,” Douglas said.
The HCP-MV is an initiative supported by the Community Foundation of the Mahoning Valley that is bringing together organizations and individuals who share a commitment to a healthier Mahoning Valley and desires to create equitable opportunities for residents to eat healthier and be more physically active, according to its website.
There are three focus areas through which HCP-MV is developing strategies to achieve long-term, sustainable change that will result in improved health outcomes: Healthy Food Retail, Active Transportation, and Parks and Green Spaces. The support of the Western Reserve Health Foundation, the Trumbull Memorial Health Foundation and the William Swanston Charitable Fund provide the financial support for HCP-MV operations and community initiatives.