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Playing outside gives kids a better chance

GAYS MILLS - This summer more than ever, we have spent our time exploring the outdoor fun our area has to offer.

This has primarily consisted of checking out all of the area parks, most frequently the Gays Mills Log Cabin Village Park.

I saw in a recent issue of the Independent-Scout that former resident Kay Smiley had written a letter to the editor expressing concerns about the conditions of the Log Cabin Village. And I have to say, I really agree with her statements in the letter.

It is so unfortunate to see such a neat part of our village fall to ruin.

I’ve asked around a bit, but it seems difficult to pinpoint who is actually ‘in charge’ of the buildings. Their disrepair is at times approaching dangerous with broken glass strewn about and rusty nails sticking out, awaiting the barefoot of a child exploring the public buildings. We have found ourselves staying away from them (much to Thatcher’s disappointment) due to these hazards.

The park itself is beginning to also show its age, with all of the benches and picnic tables looking rather weathered and uninviting. There’s also some unattractive profanity carved into them. There pieces missing from the wooden play structure, and most recently, the merry-go-round became completely disabled.

However, I must thank the village for their prompt response last year when they replaced the baby swings that apparently were broken by vandals. I was surprised however when I visited the board and all of the members looked rather confused when I said there were no baby swings on the structure. They all seemed to think they were there all along!

All of this aside, we do love visiting our local park. However, every time I go there, I wonder what we could do to make it better and encourage more kids to get out of their homes and come play.

It is such a central location for our village, with the pool, the Stump Dodger Campground, the fairgrounds and the trail; it seems sometimes like all roads lead to the Log Cabin Village Park.

We have spent a lot of time over the years improving our park for tourists and locals alike, adding things like the Stump Dodger Trail and lovely new trees and flowers and over all working to keep the village looking great.

I would say it’s high time however to shift some of our focus onto the Log Cabin Village Park and the Gays Mills Village Pool. Keeping these things up and running, modern and inviting, I feel is a vital piece to keeping the idea of kids being kids and spending more time outside and playing and less time stuck inside glued to screens.

National Trust Research conducted a study on children playing outside. The survey resulted in the disappointing conclusion that kids are playing outside at a rate of only four hours a week. That’s about half of the time their parents played outside when they were children.

However, the Harvard Health Blog recently cited playing outside as one of the simplest things you can do to improve your child’s chance of future health and success. So, one could almost argue that offering an improved play area for the kids of our community only will benefit them as a whole. More outdoor activity will hopefully lead to them being better students in our local schools and better citizens of our local community and beyond. It seems like a no brainer!

This leads us to the real question—what can we as a village do to improve one of our most delightful public spaces and make it even better for the many generations of Crawford County kids to come?