According to America Walks, “good health is not the only benefit of walking. In fact, there is a broad range of individual and community benefits that accrue when people walk more often and when communities are designed to make walking safe, enjoyable and convenient.” The benefits include safe neighborhoods, healthy communities, social equity, environmental sustainability and even improved economies.
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As libraries become centers of community-based lifelong learning, they seek more opportunities to enhance access to natural spaces located in the communities they serve. The nonprofit Children & Nature Network (C&NN) helps librarians find the partners and resources they need to understand how and why to connect children and families to nature. C&NN also helps potential partners understand the impacts that can derive from working with libraries.
This month, two Michigan public libraries — Pontiac and Pinckney — acquired basketballs, footballs, baseballs and other sports equipment that can be checked out from the library for a two-week period, marking the beginning of Project Play: Southeast Michigan.
Of course, all that equipment does no good if it just sits on the shelves, so libraries are working with partners, in particular local YMCAs, to offer active play programs that show patrons how to utilize the new collections.
The YMCA of the USA is “a leading nonprofit organization for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility” that includes approximately 2,700 local entities that together engage 21 million Americans. They are also the perfect partner for any public library interested in developing health and wellness programs.
Through its full-time youth health and program coordinator position, the City of Harker Heights (Texas) Stewart C. Meyer Public Library is working to infuse health and wellness into all of its programming.
Destinee Barton stepped into this new role in September 2018 after earning her bachelor’s degree in community health from Texas Woman’s University. I recently talked with Destinee, along with Library Director Lisa Youngblood and Children's Librarian Amanda Hairton, about how this new position emerged, what impacts it has had, and where they see it heading.
At two national health conferences last month, I learned about an array of new programs taking place in public libraries, from Play Streets to Fix-A-Flat. A major take-away from these conferences is that many people across the country interested in health are ready and eager to team up with public librarians.
I also learned a new acronym: HEAL, which stands for Healthy Eating, Active Living.
For public libraries and community partners across North America, February is prime time for gardening programs. There are many types of gardening programs you can offer, and many partners you can work with to develop them.
A quick survey of the gardening programs being offering this February and March in North America reveals that libraries are offering:
According to the National Center for Education Statistics, there are 4,360 colleges and the universities in the United States. More likely than not, there is a college or university close to you — and partnering with them is a great way to bring high-quality health and wellness programming to your library.