Promoting Health and Wellness in a Walkable, Bikeable Park to Increase Physical Activity for All

Fairgrounds Park is a 10-acre park located in Oregon, Illinois. In June of this year, Fairgrounds Park reopened with a brand new pathway, playground equipment, and fitness equipment redesigned to promote healthy recreation in the community using best practices for adult fitness, youth fitness, and nature play.

“The whole purpose of the playground is to increase the amount of physical activity for park district residents,” said Oregon Park District Executive Director Erin Folk. “Over 53 percent of district residents reside within a mile of Fairgrounds Park, and the park is easily accessible by bike or on foot, resulting in healthier families.”

 A three-quarter mile trail loop is split into north and south sections, which start and end at the playground. The loop features fitness and play pockets along the path to extend play value for children, and provide exercise opportunities for adults to develop core, muscle, balance, flexibility, and aerobic health. Each of the pockets will include play equipment for children and at least three pieces of fitness equipment for adults in an effort to encourage multi-generational usage. The trail keeps children and families moving as they travel from one pocket to the next.

The park was recognized with three National Demonstration Site distinctions: Play On! for the implementation of youth fitness strategies on the playground, Pathways for Play, for the design parameters followed on the trail, and Outdoor Adult Fitness for the fitness stations. The National Demonstration Site programs recognize best practices as researched and documented by PlayCore’s network of scholar partners to demonstrate community vitality across a variety of influences, including social emotional, environmental, health, engagement, economic, and community vibrancy.

“Integrating three of the design strategies identified by PlayCore’s National Demonstration Site program resulted in many opportunities for multi-generational programming and an increase in physical activity from our community. Implementation of the modern design elements and play components alongside each fitness station, parents and children can now utilize the park amenities alongside one another.”  said Folk.

To continue to celebrate Fairgrounds commitment to advancing play and recreation through best practices, the park received a certificate of recognition, became a part of a network of potential research sites, and is promoted actively to other communities wishing to create recreation spaces using design and/or programming.

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