PITTSBURG, KS.--- The Pittsburg Parks Department wants all residents to be able to live an active lifestyle by spending time outside. They've definitely been busy, adding new amenities like trails, and a playground that's accessible to anyone with disabilities. City officials say it's all because they want everyone in the community to be able to spend time outdoors.
"Community health is a big deal. So I think, what's the easiest way to get healthy? Get outside, walk around, burn some calories, and not know you're doing it," said Daron Hall, Pittsburg City Manager.
Even the winter weather doesn't keep Pittsburg residents from using the Watco Trail, which is why the city plans to extend the path down Michigan Street and over to Schlanger Park.
"There are many organizations trying to make our community walkable again and get our kids out to be able to ride bikes again, and just have a safe path for active transportation," said Kim Vogel, Pittsburg Parks and Recreation Director.
That's not the only project city officials have in the works. The "Everybody Plays" project was launched in 2007 to bring an accessible playground unit to Schlanger Park, which will be completely ramped with no steps, obstacles, or barriers.
"The numbers that we've gotten from the health foundation show the rise and increase of special needs and special populations in our community," said Vogel.
The swing set and surfacing phase wrapped up last year, and the city has purchased the playground with hopes of getting it installed by June.
"This playground will really help our entire community. It'll help kids that have vision impairments, kids that have autistic needs that are trying to get some sensory play items in," Vogel.
It's not just kids that will benefit from the park addition.
"We're really making sure that we're trying to focus on accessibility, not only for the children but for parents or grandparents that maybe have mobility issues so they can get up on playground equipment with their children or grandchildren," said Vogel.
The new playground and extended trail are just two examples of ways the city is trying to get their residents outside more. Officials say all the Pittsburg Parks and Recreation projects aim to achieve that goal.
"Southeast Kansas is a beautiful area. So I think the more people that can get out and enjoy it, the better for everyone in the community," said Hall.
Over the last year, the city also added nine new programs with 5,000 registered participants. Officials say they plan to keep pushing for more outdoor activities to help keep residents active.
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