Go Outside and Play! July is National Park and Recreation Month, “Get Wild”! #NRPAGetWild

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In 2009, the U.S. House of Representatives told us to “Go outside and play!” when they officially declared July to be “Park and Recreation Month.” Do you have any fun parks or recreation areas near you?  There’s an easy locator on the National Parks website that will tell you about national parks.  If you go to your state website, you can usually find locations of parks and rec areas.  I “like” the facebook pages of my local parks and that keeps me updated on activities and events.  Seeing their status updates also reminds me to keep up with our family’s goal of staying active this summer.

There is a proven correlation between childhood obesity and activity level.  There is also a correlation between activity level and accessibility of parks.   In recent times childhood obesity has been increasing at alarming levels.  The Center for Disease Control has stated that while reduction of caloric intake is helpful, it is physical activity that can truly reverse the trend.

Parks also have been shown to increase property values, boost their local economy and help make communities safer to live in.  And we know it will help reduce cases of childhood obesity.

Our favorite local park is the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore.  It’s unusual, in that, there is no “gate” or entrance.  The park property is interwoven with the community.  In total it is 15,000 acres, but because there are various buildings, natural environments, and even homes on the National Lakeshore, it is something we think of as just part of our region!  Have you ever seen the Lake Michigan shoreline?  Despite seeing it all my life, it still takes my breath away.  My dream has always been to own a home on the lake.   The lake changes every day, even several times a day.  The color, the waves, the wildlife…  The word “lake” is a bit misleading for people who have never seen one of the Great Lakes.  First-timers are often heard saying, “Wow, it looks like the ocean.”  You can’t see across it and the waves, while not as big as the ocean are pretty significant.  But one huge positive difference?  It’s fresh water so there are no sharks!  Big fish maybe, but not sharks.

“I have never seen dunes that equal them in any degree… the beauty of the plant life in their native garb is beyond description.”….. Stephen Mather, first director of the National Park Service

The Indiana National Lakeshore beaches are stunning and have received many accolades.  Today the water temperature is 72 degrees!  Perfection!  If you are going to visit, the first place to start is the Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center.  Because of Mrs. Buell, we have our beautiful dunes, today.  In 1958, she convinced Senator Paul Douglas of Illinois, to espouse the Dunes cause.  Through his leadership in the Congress and, despite many setbacks, the National Lakeshore was established in 1966.

The Dorothy Buell Visitor’s Center

The Dorothy Buell Memorial Visitor Center has exhibits and brochures about things to do at the National Lakeshore.  There are also two short films you can watch about the area and the park.  Even though we’ve lived here for years, we learned new things about the park from watching them!  “The park is comprised of over 15,000 acres of dunes, oak savannas, swamps, bogs, marshes, prairies, rivers, and forests. It contains 15 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline!  The national lakeshore preserves an important remnant of a once vast and unique environment, resulting from the retreat of the last great continental glacier some 14,000 years ago. Over 1,100 flowering plant species and ferns make their homes here. From predacious bog plants to native prairie grasses and from towering white pines to rare algal species, the plant diversity is rich. The park is also renowned for its bird life; more than 350 species have been observed.”

The theme of this year’s Park and Recreation Month is “Get Wild”.  The National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) is encouraging all of us to “Get Wild” about parks!  As part of the special events this month, the NRPA is sponsoring a geocache contest.  Players use GPS to locate hidden containers – like a modern day treasure hunt!  Five lucky contestants will win GPS devices!  For more info, and to enter go to the NRPA Facebook page .

Here’s your to-do list to get your family active!  We are going to do it and I hope you will too!

To Do: Find a park….

 

To Do: Take a hike…

To Do: Go on a picnic…

 

and…. Get Wild!

To Do: Get Wild!

Disclosure of Material Connection:  I wrote this review while participating in a blog tour by Mom Central Consulting on behalf of National Recreation and Park Association and received a promotional item to thank me for taking the time to participate.

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